Remembering Elsa Schiaperelli

George Hoyningen/Huene/Condé Nast/Shutterstock
George Hoyningen/Huene/Condé Nast/Shutterstock

In 1927, Elsa Schiaparelli caused a frenzy in the Paris fashion world with a collection of sweaters collared with trompe l’oeil bows. It was the first of her “little jokes,” many made in collaboration with the reigning surrealists of the day: Salvador Dalí (a black hat shaped like a high-heeled pump and a lobster dress), Jean Cocteau (coats embroidered with faces), and Meret Oppenheim (bracelets covered with fur). She designed the precursor of the power suit. She was the godmother of the wrap dress and the creator of culottes. And she was the first designer to make buttons and zippers the stars of an ensemble. Though Schiaparelli died 50 years ago (and stopped designing clothes 20 years before that), her legacy endures not only on the runways of the revived Maison Schiaparelli but also in the everyday absurdist fashions of our time.

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Our Editors include Sudip Bose, Bruce Falconer, Stephanie Bastek, Jayne Ross, and Ellie Eberlee.


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