Schiaparelli: How his friendship with Dalí led to iconic collaborations and creations

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the print edition of the Spring-Summer 2022 issue of Luxus+ Mag. Click on here to see the full issue.

Born in 1890 in the Italian capital, Elsa Schiaparelli has become over the years a legendary and avant-garde fashion designer, famous for her eccentricity and her deliberately provocative character. His creations also bear the surrealist touch of the artists who inspired Schiaparelli, including the famous Salvador Dalí. A look back at the story of an emblematic collaboration.

103 years earlier, in 1919, Elsa Schiaparelli arrives in Paris, a year when she has not yet realized her talent for fashion. However, her interest in art began to manifest itself when she befriended Dadaist artists, who rejected convention and challenged the norms of art, literature and art. other intellectuals.

However, it was not until 1927 that the Italian designer took her first steps in fashion. This was a major departure from other designers of the time, as she was known as one of the first to incorporate art into her designs. Her first collection is the embodiment of this desire, made up of sweaters with large trompe l’oeil bows. They become best-sellers and emblematic pieces of the brand, which propels it onto the fashion scene. Vogue was quick to call them “masterpieces”.

© Schiaparelli / Trompe l’oeil sweater

She became an accomplished designer at the head of a successful fashion house, and it was then that during the 1930s, she had the ambition to innovate and surprise even more. One of the encounters that forever changed the course of his life and the history of his brand was with the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.

The Dalí-Schiaparelli era

The friendship between the artist and the designer has given rise to numerous collaborations. Together, they create several fashion pieces marked by the casualness and eccentricity that perfectly characterize these two people.

© Salvador Dali

In 1935, their first joint creation, a case in the shape of a telephone dial, was born. But it was Schiaparelli’s winter 1936-1937 Haute-Couture collection, presented in August 1936, that marked their first official collaboration. The surrealist Schiaparelli “Mirror Suit” was born, inspired by the Spanish artist’s painting The Anthropomorphic Cabinet (1936).

© ArtCurial / Trompe l’oeil powder box made by Dalí and Schiaparelli

This first piece has real or trompe l’oeil pockets in the shape of boxes, and the buttons of the suit are made of drawer handles.

A recurring theme for Dalí and a symbol of his obsession with women, the lobster also inspired the Italian designer and gave rise to the creation of a Lobster Dress in 1937. Another emblematic piece from the work of Schiaparelli and Dalí, it is inspired of the work Telephone Lobster. Legend has it that Dali wanted to add a little mayonnaise to the fabric, a proposal that the designer refused.

The “Le Cirque” collection, unveiled by the designer in 1938, is an ode to the dialogue she had with surrealist artists, especially Dalí. From this collection and new collaboration was born the Tears Dress, a white mourning dress with a long veil. It would have been inspired by one of the torn dresses from which shreds of fabric seem to hang, worn by a young woman in the painting Three young surrealist women holding in their arms the skin of an orchestra (1936).

Finally, how can we talk about the many emblematic collaborations between Dalí and Schiaparelli without mentioning the Chapeau Chaussure (1937). Presented on the occasion of the Haute-Couture winter 1937-1938 collection, this original and surprising creation is inspired by a photo taken in 1933 by Gala in which we see the famous artist wearing a woman’s shoe.

© Schiaparelli

In addition to clothing, Dalí continued to collaborate with Elsa Schiaparelli for many years. He designed fabric patterns or perfume bottles for her, such as the labels for Shocking Radiance body oils or the Baccarat crystal bottle for his Le Roy Soleil perfume in 1946.

See also

Schiaparelli invests the Museum of Decorative Arts for an exceptional retrospective

From July 6, 2022 to January 22, 2023, will be held at Museum of Decorative Arts (MAD) in Paris. From its history to its creations, nothing has been left to chance, where the visitor can navigate between the wonderful and casual creations of Schiaparelli.

© Museum of Decorative Arts (MAD)

After visiting the exhibition at 107 rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, all you have to do is walk up the emblematic street and you will come across the 5-star hotel Le Meurice. This luxury hotel has a restaurant that bears the name of the famous Spanish artist and friend of Schiaparelli, with whom the latter collaborated on numerous occasions: Salvador Dalí.

The Dalí, a unique and elegant place, offers a rich choice of French gourmet dishes, which you can taste while immersed in a universe inspired by the artist himself.


Feature photo: © Schiaparelli


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