The Wonderful Mme. Schiaparelli

One of my final tasks for The Book is to write small pieces on the major fashion designers of the 20th century – it’s been both pleasurable and frustrating because I love them so much, it’s a struggle to write only one paragraph. So I’ve been writing three – to do less seems insulting, these men and women have contributed so much to my world of vintage clothing.

Today I considered one of my favourites, the incomparable Elsa Schiaparelli. Not only did she have the good fortune to be operating at a very interesting (and glamourous) time in fashion (the ’20s and ’30s), but she was able to count amongst her many friends some of the most important artists, including Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.

Schiaparelli collaborated with some of these men, whilst others merely inspired her – and the results were witty and fun, challenging and controversial. Here are some of her most talked about creations…they all date from the late ’30s and I love them all.


  1. Thanks Livebird – no, I hadn’t heard of it yet, and yes, I’m very interested! I’ll be keeping an eye out for when they include other states because there are some great things here in Victoria. I can’t wait to see what goes on line too.

  2. I am looking forward to the lecture on Schiaparelli in conjunction with the Dali exhibition. I love her work and have two copies of her autobiography – Shocking Life.
    Are you writing a book?

  3. OH that is exciting, I will definitely be getting a copy!
    Back to Schiaparelli. One of the interesting things about vintage is how items end up in certain locations. I bought a copy of Schiaparelli’s autobiography in an op shop in Adaminaby which is a little town near the Snowy Mountains of NSW, just after Christmas. It had the dustjacket and all. I collect fashion literature when I can.
    I have only ever seen her work in exhibitions.

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