Fashion Friday – Schiaparelli
‘Schiaparelli, London’, summer 1937
‘Rococo Scrollwork’ jacket and dress
Elsa Schiaparelli was a celebrated fashion designer with showrooms in Paris and London during the 1930s. She was not only a couturier, but also a fully-fledged artist who associated with famous surrealist figures of the day, such as Salvador Dali. She created flamboyant outfits, and some of her clients, like Marlene Dietrich and Wallace Simpson, who became the Duchess of Windsor, relished the drama of wearing her bold, highly embellished costumes.
We actively collect fashion, and this midnight blue silk jersey ensemble was purchased in 2015 thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the V&A. The jacket is strikingly trimmed with cream patent leather in ‘rococo’ scrolls and it makes it a very dramatic piece. Our dress was worn by a British socialite but it’s the same model that Wallace Simpson chose for her wedding trousseau in 1937, and she was photographed wearing it by Cecil Beaton. We’re delighted to show both the outfit and the original Beaton photograph as part of the Vogue 100 show.
Dr. Miles Lambert, Curator of Costume
“I love this piece, it has a simple elegance with just the right amount of flourish and, whilst it is so of it’s time, I think it is equally wearable today… a classic.”
Janet Evans, part of Couture Collective, who have been meeting once a month at the gallery to discuss 20th century couture.
“The dress itself is a timeless classic, more suited to a slimmer silhouette. The outfit could easily be worn today without looking out of place, say to a formal dinner.”
Gwynneth Carville – Fashion Tutor at The Manchester College / Freelance Fashion Designer. Part of Couture Collective.