Reference Entry

Schiaparelli, Elsa

Elizabeth Q. Bryan

in Oxford Art Online


Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T2079792

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(b Rome, Sept 10, 1890; d Paris, Nov 13, 1973)

Italian-born French fashion designer. Although Schiaparelli began her career with sportswear in the late 1920s, she is remembered for her Surrealism designs of the 1930s, often created in collaboration with such artists as Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau and Marcel Vertès. The drama of her original embroideries, vivid colours and strikingly witty accessories overshadows the simplicity of her sharply tailored suits and slender evening dresses (see fig. 1 and 2 ). Her ultimate success as a designer stemmed from her original sense of style and her instinctive attraction to the most avant-garde artistic circles.

Schiaparelli was born in Rome to a family of scholars and scientists and was educated in Switzerland and England. In London she fell in love in 1914 with the theosophist Wilhelm Wendt de Kerlor and married him without her family’s approval later that year. From 1914 to 1920 Schiaparelli and her husband led a precarious and bohemian existence, travelling from Britain to France to the United States. Along the way Schiaparelli met members of the international avant-garde, among them the Dadaist ...

Reference Entry.  1356 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Fashion, Jewellery, and Body Art ; 19th-Century Art ; 20th-Century Art

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