Schiaparelli or “Schiap” -as she was called by her friends-had a very affluent and well-educated family background. She was born in 1890,in a posh division of Rome and despite the aristocratic graces that she was raised with, she was a rebel: she wanted to pursue acting- while studying philosophy at University- and family resistance made her publish a book of sensual poetry for which she was sent to a strict convent in Germanic Switzerland. Her individuality and flare for designing was reflected in 1913, when she arrived at a ball wearing a gown put in place by only pins! Against her family’s wishes, she married her professor, Count William de Wendt de Kerlor in 1914. Enroute to NewYork, where the couple was to begin their life together, they encountered Gabriella Picabia, wife of the Spanish Dadaian artist Francis Picabia. Schiap and her husband were then introduced to the Greenwich Village Circle of artists which belonged to the Avant-garde Movement at the time. This was important as these artists were to reflect on her style and design philosophy in the coming years of success. Following the birth of her daughter “Gogo”, she got divorced and was also dejected by the demise of her father. She moved to the artist colony of Woodstock, New York where she led a hand to mouth life. In 1922, she was invited by Gabriella Picaba and moved to Paris. This was a turning point in her life: she met Paul Poiret, the Master of Couture at the time, in 1924 and started freelancing designs on his advice and from there; there was no turning back for her.
Style and design philosophy:
Schiaparelli epitomized REAL style, one that was unique to an individual. It was also termed as “Shocking” given that the colors, silhouettes and detailing that her designs entailed were idiosyncratic and even eccentric for the time. Just as artists of the Surrealism Movement were using canvases to express themselves, Schiap chose clothes as her medium of expression. She was averse to “playing it safe” unlike her rival Coco Chanel, and her designs were highly creative, bold, rebellious and she constantly renewed trends. Towards the Second World War, while Europe was grim, her collections bought joy to boost the morale of women at the time e.g the Music Collection.
Schiaparelli was a freedom loving soul who believed in self expression. Her frivolous designs could only be pulled off by people who were of great substance and style and as confident, daring and strong as Schiap herself. Thus, her customers were the affluent urbanites- the elite, sportswomen, actresses and artists who seeked exclusivity and originality. Schiaparelli designs were a confirmation of their affirmed taste for REAL style.
Contributions to fashion:
In 1927, Schiaparelli launched her own Couture house, by the name of Stupidir le Sport and in this couture “laboratory”, she came up with various innovations: *
Introduced knitwear, with metallic threads, mottled and with bows and motifs made with art technique involving realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion. *
Bra of bathing suit was created in 1930
Pullover, pant skirts, tunics and the divided skirt( modern version are shorts) were designed *
Silhouette: Not streamlined, but broad, padded shoulders and a variety of sleeve holes. *
In 1935, she came up with the synthetic glass fiber. Evening dresses were shortened with waists cinched in. In the pre-war time, her designs carried a military touch. *
Zippers and buttons were used as design details and not as forms of closure, and were jeweled or embroidered. *
1936- Flared skirts emerged along with drawer pockets in collaboration with Salvador Dali. Influences from Surrealism were also reflected in her lamp chop hat, butterfly and lobster dresses, ribbed jacket and shoe hats etc *
After the war was declared, her designs began to...
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