Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Nod to Elsa Schiaparelli


 “She slapped Paris. She smacked it. She tortured it. She bewitched it. And it fell madly in love with her.”— Yves Saint Laurent

Between WWI and WWII, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel dominated the fashion world.  While Coco is best known for her "little black dress", Schiaparelli rocked the world by transforming Surrealism into fashion art. She collaborated with Man Ray, Salvadore Dali, Jean Cocteau, and other surrealists to turn the early fashion world upside down.  Here is her famous and first design....the "bow-tie" sweater:
An Italian-born Parisian resident, Elsa was known to her friends merely as "Schiap".  She was the first to use shoulder pads and animal prints, and is the inventor of the color "shocking" pink.....hence the name of her signature perfume and autobiography which I am currently reading.
Every evening when I close her book, my mind races with unusual and crazy ideas to decorate my evening bags as I lay awake until 2:00 am.   Would I actually have to nerve to step outside my comfort zone and try something....shall we say....."irreverent"?  I wasn't sure I had it in me...I'm such a traditional designer at heart! But as fate would have it, I felt the urge to peruse my box of vintage gloves and handbags.  (I don't know why.....I just do this about three or four times a year.)  I set the box aside as I was getting ready for bed and tossed a pair of gloves on top of it.  When I awoke the next morning, the gloves that I had so carelessly tossed on top of the box were lying in an unusual "bow" shape.  That's it!.....a Schiap-inspired "bow" for my clutch!  How could I resist the idea? 
I have come to learn as a designer that inspiration lies all around us--in every aspect of our lives.  We have to keep our eyes sharpened and our minds open so that we recognize it when it's under our noses...it could be our only chance, you know.
Even though my daughters laughed curiously at my latest design, I have a feeling there will be a few more Schiap-inspired, glove "bow" evening bags to follow....I have to find some way to use some of the beautiful vintage gloves!
Schiap's twelve commandments for women:
1. Since most women do not know themselves they should try to do so.
2. A woman who buys an expensive dress and changes it, often with disastrous result, is extravagant and foolish.
3. Most women (and men) are color-blind. They should ask for suggestions.
4. Remember-twenty percent of women have inferiority complexes. Seventy percent have illusions.
5. Ninety percent are afraid of being conspicuous, and of what people will say. So they buy a gray suit. They should dare to be different.
6. Women should listen and ask for competent criticism and advice.
7. They should choose their clothes alone or in the company of a man.
8. They should never shop with another woman, who sometimes consciously or unconsciously, is apt to be jealous.
9. She should buy little and only of the best or cheapest.
10. Never fit a dress to the body, but train the body to fit the dress.
11. A woman should buy mostly in one place where she is known and respected, and not rush around trying every new fad.
12. And she should pay her bills.

The book Shocking Life by Elsa Schiaparelli is full of details about her life, her work and her travels.  If you desire some whimsical inspiration, consider reading it and doing some research on Elsa.....you'll be amazed!   My vintage copy of "Shocking Life" is a recent eBay purchase which gave ME a shock when I saw how high the bids could go!!!...luckily I got mine during the Super Bowl while everyone else was stuffing their faces with chips and chili con queso...  :)


Diana by Lagoa Design Studio said...

Hi Sue,
I adore your new Schiap inspired clutch!!! What a great idea!
Actually I was reading your post with pleasure. Like her commandments, especially 4. and 10.


VMcreation-fashion-studio-atelier said...

Hello Sue!-)*

Such a gorgeous post,really like it!!!

I was amazed by Diana about her beautiful green creation and was very intrested about you blog!

Just SO good information here by you and I love you green designs!-)))

With love and care,


GoAskAlice said...

Hi Sue, I love your blog and will definately follow! I want to Post Elsa's 10 commandments in my studio and fitting room for my customers to read! I had to laugh out loud when I read how you won the book by the fact that it was during the superbowl!
Your Doppleganger,
Sue :)

La Petite Plume said...

Your Majesty thank you for enlightening us to such a wonderful designer and such a wonderful inspiring post. I am definitetly going to purchase this book and I just LOVE your clutches!! I love the fact that your gloves fell in the form of a bow and inspired you! There are some of us that have to study to learn of inspiration and there are some of us born with this gift.

Royal wishes,

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment....I would love to hear your thoughts!