Paris auction opens closet of Schiaparelli, doyenne of 1930s fashion

Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:03pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - Elsa Schiaparelli, doyenne of 1930s Paris fashion, may be long gone - buried in her favorite hue of shocking pink - but nearly 200 pieces from her closet, along with her fine art and furniture, may enjoy a second life after an auction next week.

In the heady, pre-war Paris of the 1930s, Italian-born Schiaparelli exerted her sense of subversive, outlandish whimsy on couture from her design studio on the Place Vendome, creating conversation pieces that flouted convention.

Devotees of the trailblazer who dared women to be bold can choose between a silk violet blouse from the "Astrology" collection, a series of Man Ray photographs of the designer, a multi-colored feather boa or a delicately painted bird cage - up for the highest bidder at the January 23 auction in Paris.

"She had this incredible side of her that loved to have fun, that was very original, that dared to do anything, that was provocative but always chic," said Schiaparelli's granddaughter, Marisa Berenson, on Friday.

Described by Time magazine in 1934 as "madder and more original than most of her contemporaries," Schiaparelli hobnobbed with the avant-garde artists of the day like Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau, both of whom became collaborators. Her greatest rival was Coco Chanel.

She was the first to fuse fine art with fashion and her creations adorned the likes of the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford.

Whether designing a white organza evening gown printed with the image of a lobster, a hat that resembled a high-heeled shoe, adding lips to pockets or bugs to necklaces, Schiaparelli's daring and provocative sense of humor make Lady Gaga's zaniness today look almost ho-hum.

"She went to one famous ball dressed as a radish with lots of birds eating off her and you have to have a great imagination to go, and also to dare to go, dressed as a radish. You have to have a sense of humor," Berenson said.   Continued...