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Elsa Schiaparelli

(1896—1973) Italian-born French fashion designer


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(1896–1973)

French couturière, born in Italy, noted for her innovative use of nylon and other synthetic fabrics.

Schiaparelli was born in Rome into an illustrious academic family. She worked initially in the USA as a film scriptwriter, translator, and sculptress before moving to Paris in the mid-1920s. She began designing knitwear in her hotel bedroom and in 1927 moved to a studio in the Rue de la Paix. Her introduction in 1931–32 of the built-up shoulder was to influence women's fashions for the entire decade. Her designs were often inspired by contemporary artists, such as Salvador Dali, with touches of the surreal. A notable feature was her bold use of colour: a particularly strong pink, first employed by her, became known as shocking pink.

Schiaparelli moved into new premises in the Place Vendôme in 1934 and her business expanded into the whole spectrum of women's wear as well as cosmetics and perfumes. During World War II she toured the USA giving lectures and in 1949 opened a branch in New York. Her autobiography, Shocking Life, was published in 1954.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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