Salvador Dali for Schiaparelli HC Telephone Compact, Fall 1935
Important Salvador Dali for Schiaparelli Haute Couture Telephone Compact, Fall 1935.
The Haute Couture Collections of Paris in the 1930s were shown 4 to 5 times a year unlike today. The sheer volume of beautiful clothes and accessories needed to dress the wealthy elite was mind boggling. Thousands of craftsmen were employed in Paris for the manufacture of every category of dress, including shoes, bags, jewelry, hats and of course, clothes.
Schiaparelli's output during the prewar period was astonishing yet what remains of her Haute Couture offerings remains incredibly scarce.
Many of the most important collections were shown only 2 and 3 months apart with 80 to 100 styles apiece. These "outfits" were shown complete, head to toe in the spirit and theme of that entire collection. Today, very few designers show complete looks in the same way.
Today an Haute Couture collection from a Parisian house costs millions of Euros to produce and promote with a style selection of probably half that quantity and showing only twice a year.
Her attraction to the Surrealist Art movement influences her clothes and accessories and fascinates her clientelle who at all costs needed to give the impression of being "au courant". Faithful, fearless (and wealthy) clients such as Millicent Rogers and Daisy Fellows inspired a flock of followers to the House of Schiaparelli for novelties and inspired gowns which were not available anywhere in Paris.
These eccentric "Anti-Establishment" society creatures uprooted many of the clients from Chanel and other Haute Couture houses by dressing chez Schiaparelli and her fantastical creations...vicariously building her business and reputation as the "Artist" who designed clothes.
In the Fall 1935 collection, Schiaparelli shows telephone dial compacts designed in collaboration with her friend Salvador Dali.
"Her collection for Fall 1935 includes harem trousers for evening; flower visors on filet mesh caps; head veils influenced by Italian primitive paintings attached to jeweled caps for evening; (Venetian) evening capes in heavily crinkled Simoun (taffeta); vanity cases shaped like telephone dials; and hemplike printed linens"
Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli
Dilys E. Blum (2004)
Immediately across the pond these compacts were "knocked off" and inexpensive copies were sold by the thousands to the flocks of women looking for the latest novelty from Paris.
This particular example is an original 1930's Schiaparelli model, extraordinarly rare to find as well as in this amazing, unused condition. An incredible artifact that represents the whimsy and decadence of Schiaparelli's influence from the heyday of the French Haute Couture.
This compact was exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at "Shocking", the ultimate Schiaparelli retrospective (2004) as well as the the Musee de la Mode, Union Centrale des Arts Decoratif in Paris (2004).
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