Elsa Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli, Elsa (skyäpärĕlˈlē) [key], 1890–1973, French fashion designer, b. Rome. She established a house of couture in Paris that existed from the late 1920s until 1954, and established a New York showroom in 1949. A daring, flamboyant fashion innovator, she popularized brilliant colors, especially shocking pink, her signature color. She was the first to use synthetic fabrics and zipper fastenings and the first to open a boutique offering ready-to-wear clothing. She is noted for her perfume (notably Shocking, her first and most famous); small hats; angular, wide-shouldered suits and dresses; turbans; walking coats; evening sweaters; halter necklines; cocktail dresses with matching jackets; and scarves. She created extravagant, daring, amusing designs (e.g., bouffant gloves ballooning to the shoulders, phosphorescent brooches, and handbags that played tunes when opened). She also collaborated with such artists as Cocteau and Dalí.

See her autobiography, Shocking Life (1954); biography by P. White (1986); D. E. Blum, Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli (2003).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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