Vintage Style Icons: Elsa Schiaparelli

Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the most influential designers of the early 20th Century. Along with her great rival Coco Chanel, she transformed womens fashions during the 1920s and 30s and is famous for her ‘fashion-as-art’ dresses. She collaborated with artists and surrealists including Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali to create amazing and innovative fashions, including her iconic Lobster dress of 1937 which featured a hand-painted lobster on the skirt. This dress was famously worn by Wallis Simpson and she was photographed wearing it by Cecil Beaton for Vogue. She also designed fabulous costume jewelry and movie costumes.

When Paris fell to the Germans in 1941 Schiaparelli fled to New York, where she remained for the rest of the war years. She returned to post-war Paris to continue designing but without her earlier success and she closed her store in 1954.

See more of Elsa Schiaparelli’s outrageous surrealist designs on my Pinterest board. I adore the cheeky bra with the hands on it, but that leopard-face hat is just vile!

Did you know?

1960s model Marisa Berenson is the grandaughter of Elsa Schiaparelli

Above: image source and copyright: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.