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Designer Quick Profile: Elsa Schiaparelli


Designer Quick Profile: Elsa Schiaparelli
Photo: George Konig/Getty (Hulton Archive)
September 10, 1890 - November 13, 1973


  • Born in Rome, Italy
  • Studied philosophy at the University of Rome
  • First got attention with her sweater design which featured a tromp l'oi scarf around the neckline. The sweater was ordered by Lord & Taylor and featured in Vogue magazine.
  • Schiaparelli was the first to use synthetic materials like rayon jersey and cellophane in couture.
  • Schiaparelli regarded fashion as an art form and dresses and collaborated with many of her friends in the Parisian avant garde art scene.
  • Responsible for costuming of thirty movies such as Pygmalion, Every Day's a Holiday, Jump for Glory, and The Beloved Vagabond

Important Designs:

  • Scarf neck sweater, 1927
  • Wrap dress, 1930
  • Glass cape, 1934, made of Rhodophane
  • Lamb chop hat
  • Shoe hat, 1937 (collaboration with Salvador Dalí)
  • The "divided skirt", a precursor to shorts, similar to culottes
  • Lobster print dress, 1937 (collaboration with Salvador Dalí)
  • Reversible black/white gown
  • Visable zippers and zippers as embelishment
  • Use of whimsical buttons (tamborine, hands, vegetables, etc.)

Friends and Collaborators:

  • Salvador Dalí
  • Man Ray
  • Jean Cocteau
  • Alberto Giacometti
  • Marcel Duchamp
  • Alfred Stieglitz


  • Daisy Fellowes
  • Gala Dali
  • Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson
  • Mae West
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