2012 07 Real Couples Kristen Jasons

SCHIAPARELLI DESIGNER. Courageous and highly original, Italian-born Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the leading designers of the 1930s. Like her rival Coco Chanel, “Schiap” did not have any couture training, which seems to have made it easier for her to disregard sartorial conventions. Observing the trend toward sportswear while living in the US in the early 1920s, Schiaparelli started off with practical knitwear that already displayed her determination to inject humor into fashion.


The sign outside her first establishment at 4 Rue de la Paix in Paris displayed Pour le Sport underneath her name, later to be joined by Pour la Ville and Pour le Soir—for the city and the evening. Art and inventions Schiaparelli was interested in art from a young age and published a selection of poetry as a teenager. She was not the only designer to work with artists but her collections seem to bear a more obvious trace of the influence of collaborators such as Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali. Like the surrealists, Schiaparelli enjoyed shaking up tradition and introduced fabric and other items into new and unexpected contexts: she used tweed for evening wear, waterproofed taffeta for raincoats, and fashioned hats into the shape of shoes and lamb cutlets.


Buttons brought out particular spurts of inventiveness, and they appeared in the shape of animals, such as fish and butterflies, as well as chessmen, lollipops, and even miniature trapeze artists. Excited by anything new, Schiaparelli worked with enterprising fabric manufacturers such as Charles Colcombet and was happy to use synthetic textiles such as rayon and nylon, and even cellophane and Rhodophane, a transparent plastic.