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Elsa Schiaparelli Haute Couture Faux Bolero Gown


Elsa Schiaparelli was well connected into the avant-garde artistic and intellectual circles of New York and Paris in the 1920s and 30s. She regarded fashion as art and thought of herself as an artist. She was the first and arguably the most influential designer to explore irony in dress, collaborating frequently with fellow Surrealists Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, and Man Ray. One is reminded of the famed Dali-Schiaparelli organdy Lobster dress, the crustacean's ironic placement forming a visual pun as worn by an unsuspecting Wallis Simpson in the images prepared for her wedding to the Duke of Windsor. Schiaparelli's designs of the late 1930s adhere to fellow Surrealist Andre Breton's idea of convulsive beauty, a beauty which was meant to shock. “Convulsive beauty will be veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive, magic-circumstantial, or it will not be. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Schiaparelli's Haute Couture lavishly embroidered Surrealist trompe l'oiel gown in silk velvet and crepe. 1940. One of Schiaparelli's favorite design motifs included using trompe l'oeil elements into her pieces. She used elements that fooled the eye, inspired by her interest in Surrealist art. An example of this is visible in the construction of the dress, particularly the seaming, which creates a trompe l'oeil bolero. The faux silk velvet bolero is defined by the 18th Century style Lesage embroideries of gilt metal and seed pearl flowerheads placed across the breasts and edges. The results are highly decorative, demure, subversive and provocative at the same time. The placement of the flowers creating a metaphor in this surrealist pun. The body of the dress is fitted and releases to fullness from the hip to hem in a rich black crepe. SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY. Schiaparelli in her studio, late 1930's. Schiaparelli gown with gilt metal and pearl day lilies, Fall,1940. Schiaparelli's Shoe Hats, Lip Suit and Surrealist Orchid Sculpture.


  • Period
  • Condition
    Excellent, label is partially visible.
  • Marked size
    8 (NA)
  • Seller location
    New York, NY
  • Reference number

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