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Elsa Schiaparelli

Italian, French, 1890-1973

From her signature color Shocking Pink to her collaborations with Surrealist artists, the boldly original Elsa Schiaparelli transformed fashion with her haute couture house from the late 1920s to the early ’50s. Experimenting with elements like trompe l’oeil images and colorful visible zippers, the Italian designer instilled a provocative avant-garde artistry in her clothing and accessories, including those created with Salvador Dalí, such as the lobster dress and a hat shaped like a shoe.

Born in Rome, Schiaparelli was a rebellious child who grew up among the city’s intellectual elite. She had a voracious appetite for reading and became interested in ancient cultures, astronomy and world religions. Schiaparelli studied philosophy at the University of Rome, and after publishing a collection of poems on love and sensuality that so mortified her conservative parents that they tried, unsuccessfully, to confine her to a Swiss convent, she left for London.

A quick marriage to Count Wilhelm de Wendt de Kerlor brought her to New York, but it would be in Paris following her divorce that Schiaparelli embraced her artistic passions. She moved to the French capital city in 1922 with her young daughter and happened to meet master couturier Paul Poiret, who loaned the stylish Schiaparelli his clothes, sparking her own fashion interests.

Schiaparelli opened her modest atelier in Paris and debuted her first collection of knitwear in 1927, and later that year, she designed a black-and-white pullover hand-knit wool sweater featuring a trompe l’oeil bowknot that captured the attention of the fashion world. Vogue called it “an artistic masterpiece.” The success led to her moving her house to 21 Place Vendôme in 1935 where thousands of garments were produced each year.

Schiaparelli’s knitwear collections were later accompanied by revolutionary swimsuits and other clothing and accessories. Her inventive designs would include culottes — a radical statement in the 1930s when women still could cause a scandal by wearing pants — as well as printed fabric, such as the 1938 Tears dress with a print designed by Dalí making it appear as if the evening gown had been savagely ripped.

Schiaparelli was among the first designers to use materials like rayon and Lurex as well as explore wrap dresses and transparent raincoats. She also introduced unisex fragrances and brought her artistic partnerships into jewelry, such as bronze brooches made with Alberto Giacometti and fur-lined bracelets with Méret Oppenheim. As she wrote in her 1954 autobiography Shocking Life, women should “dare to be different.”

Despite her acclaim, her shop closed in 1954 after a tumultuous time during World War II. By then, fashion had moved on with Christian Dior's New Look, and the closure of Schiaparelli's business coincided with a comeback mounted by Coco Chanel, her archrival in the early days.

In 2006, Italian businessman Diego Della Valle acquired the brand and its archives, and the Maison Schiaparelli was reopened in 2012, back at 21 Place Vendôme where Schiaparelli's fearless and enduring work began.

Find vintage Elsa Schiaparelli hats, evening dresses and other clothing and accessories on 1stDibs.

Antique Ceramic Deer Brooch by Lucien Neuquelman for Elsa Schiaparelli, 1930
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in New York, NY
Very rare glazed ceramic roe deer pin brooch. Designed by the French Artist Lucien Neuquelman for Elsa Schiaparelli for the Circus Fashion Collection (see picture from the catalogue...
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1930s French Art Nouveau Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

1938 ElsaSchiaparelli CouturePagan DeposeFrance FeatherCrystalGold Bird Brooch
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in Chicago, IL
Unusually decorated with small partridge feathers like the yellow-gold gilt necklace commissioned by Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) that is featured on the front-and-back covers and centerfold of the French costume-jewelry hardcover book, Lina Baretti Parures, by Patrick Mauries, this unique pave-crystal yellow-gold gilt metal partridge-on-a-branch brooch is further distinguished as an unsigned Parisian-couture piece for Italian-born Schiaparelli with its combination of embossed text "Made In France" and "Modele Depose", along with the trombone clasp often used in the early 20th Century for custom-made French small brooches. The book centerfold on pages 90-91 shows a closeup of the feathered necklace created by French-born Corsican Baretti, whose intricate decoration often mixed ready-made textural or shiny materials like velvet, cork, wire, rhodoid or raffia with custom-made metal, plastic or glass by specialized Parisian workshops such as Gripoix. The Baretti-book caption about the attributed necklace notes: "Collier realise pour Elsa Schiaparelli. Liege, soie, cannetille, perles de verre et plumes de perdix. Chaine en metal." While none of the captions date this necklace--which could have been from the same commission as our brooch--Baretti created one-of-a-kind jewelry for Schiaparelli from the 1930s until the early 1950s when the fashion designer retired. Our brooch was most likely made for a fashion-show debut of one of Schiaparelli's themed clothing collections in the late 1930s for which she commissioned many costume-jewelry paruriers including Baretti. See our photo of a Schiaparelli 1930s...
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1930s French Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

Materials

Crystal, Gold, Yellow Gold, Gilt Metal

Elsa Schiaparelli Vintage Faceted Topaz Crystal Glass Clip on Earrings
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in North Miami, FL
The combination of faceted smoky topaz crystal glass with turquoise Boris Aurealis glass stones and clear rhinestones set of with a flower top in gilt m...
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1940s French Modern Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

Materials

Crystal, Brass

Elsa Schiaparelli Turquoise Cocktail Ring
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in New York, NY
Elsa Schiaparelli Baroque Revival Cocktail Ring. Composed of leafy vine motif textured gilt plate base metal, faux Tibetan turquoise oval cabochon, with aurora iridized glass, in pin...
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1950s American Baroque Revival Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

Materials

Gold Plate, Base Metal, Gilt Metal

Elsa Schiaparelli Wide Turquoise Cabochon Bracelet
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in New York, NY
Elsa Schiaparelli Baroque revival wide bracelet composed of leafy vine motif textured gilt plate base metal with faux Tibetan turquoise oval cabochons and iridized Aurora pink/blue/...
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1950s American Baroque Revival Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

Materials

Gold Plate, Base Metal, Gilt Metal

Elsa Schiaparelli Turquoise Cabochon Vine Brooch
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in New York, NY
Elsa Schiaparelli Baroque Revival Brooch composed of leafy vine motif textured gilt plate base metal with large faux Tibetan turquoise oval cabocheons, and iridized glass aurora pin...
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1950s American Baroque Revival Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

Materials

Gold Plate, Base Metal, Gilt Metal

Long multi coloured cabuchon paste drop earrings, Elsa Schiaparelli, USA, 1950s.
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in Greyabbey, County Down
A beautiful pair of very long drop earrings by Elsa Schiaparelli, with subtly coloured and sumptuous cabuchon stones of varying shape and size. Elegant and sophisticated in style and...
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1950s American Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

Materials

Base Metal

1930s Schiaparelli Baretti GalalithRoseMotifFuchsiaGarland CordTiedBrassNecklace
By Elsa Schiaparelli
Located in Chicago, IL
With 1930s findings in the distinct highly-textural and unusual-mixed-media style of French parurier Lina Baretti (1899-1994), who was a frequent designer of unsigned one-of-a-kind c...
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1930s French Artisan Vintage Elsa Schiaparelli

Materials

Brass

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Creators Similar to Elsa Schiaparelli

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House of Schiaparelli

Elsa Schiaparelli jewelry & watches for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a range of Elsa Schiaparelli jewelry & watches available on 1stDibs. Each of these unique items was designed with extraordinary care, often using gilt metal. While looking for the most stylish antique or vintage Elsa Schiaparelli jewelry to pair with your ensemble, you’ll find that Elsa Schiaparelli crystal jewelry & watches, from our inventory of 4, can add a particularly distinctive touch to your look. We have 26 pieces in this collection as well as a number of other designs by this jeweler. While this collection reflects work that originated over various time periods, most of these items were designed during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider jewelry & watches by Hattie Carnegie, Panetta, and Richard Kerr. Prices for Elsa Schiaparelli jewelry & watches can differ depending upon gemstone, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $300 and tops out at $7,750, while pieces like these, on average, can sell for $896.
Questions About Elsa Schiaparelli
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Italian Elsa Schiaparelli moved to Paris, France and opened a fashion house that would become known the world over for her bold designs. Her haute couture often borrowed from Surrealism, she used overt sexuality and didn’t shy away from bold colors that most designers were not using at the time. Find vintage and contemporary Schiaparelli bags, clothing and accessories from some of the world’s top boutiques on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Elsa Schiaparelli dressed many notable people over the course of her career. In 1931, she created a divided skirt for tennis player Lili de Alvarez to wear for the Wimbledon tournament. She also produced the costumes worn by Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 1952 film Moulin Rouge and by Mae West in the 1937 film Every Day's a Holiday. On 1stDibs, find a range of Elsa Schiaparelli apparel and accessories.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Elsa Schiaparelli is an Italian-born fashion designer who was famous for her surrealist designs, which included outlandish accessories such as a purse shaped like a telephone. You can shop a selection of Elsa Schiapatelli pieces from some of the world’s top boutiques on 1stDibs.

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