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Elsa Sciaparelli

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Elsa Sciaparelli

Elsa Schiaparelli: a Biography by Meryle Secrest Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 7, 2014

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"Her name was Elsa Schiaparelli. She was known as the Queen of Fashion; a headline attraction in the international glitter-glamour show of the late twenties and thirties, feted in Rome (where she was born), Paris, New York, London, Moscow, Hollywood . . .

Her style was a social revolution through clothing—luxurious, eccentric, ironic, sexy. Her fashions, inspired, from the whimsical to the most practical—from a Venetian cape of the commedia dell’arte  to the Soviet parachute. She collaborated with some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century: on jewelry designs with Jean Schlumberger; on clothes with Salvador Dalí (his lobster dress for her, a lobster garnished with parsley painted on the skirt of an organdy dress, was instantly bought by Wallis Simpson for her honeymoon with the Duke of Windsor); with Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti, Christian Bérard, photographers Baron Adolph de Meyer, Horst, Cecil Beaton, and the young Richard Avedon. 

She was the first designer to use rayon and latex, thick velvets, transparent and waterproof, and cellophane. Her perfume—Shocking!—was a bottle in the shape of a bust sculpted by Léonor Fini, inspired by the body of Mae West. Her boutique at an eighteenth-century palace at 21 Place Vendôme opened into a cage designed by Jean-Michel Frank. American Vogue, in 1927, presented her entire collection as Works of Art. A decade later, she was the first European to win the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award.

Here is the never-before-told story of this most extraordinary fashion designer, perhaps the most extraordinary fashion designer of the twentieth century, in her day more famous than Chanel. Meryle Secrest, acclaimed biographer, who has captured the lives of many of the twentieth century’s most iconic cultural figures, among them: Frank Lloyd Wright, Bernard Berenson, and Modigliani, gives us the first full life of the grand couturier—surrealist and embattled figure–-whose medium was apparel. “Dare to be different,” Schiaparelli advised women, and she lived it to the height; a rebel against convention—social as well as fashion. She designed an otter-fur bathing suit and a hat inspired by a lamb chop. (“I like to amuse myself,” she said. “If I didn’t, I would die.”) Chanel, her arch rival, called her, “that Italian woman who makes dresses.”

Here is the story of Schiaparelli’s rise to fame (as brazen and unique as any of the artistic creations that emerged from her Paris workrooms before World War II); her emotionally starved upbringing in Rome (her mother was part Scottish, part Neapolitan; her father, a prominent medieval  scholar specializing in Islamic manuscripts, dean of the faculty of Rome; her uncle, an astronomer famous for his description in 1877 of “canals” on Mars); her years overshadowed by a prettier sister; her  elopement with a Swiss-born man who claimed to be a count, disciple of mysticism and the occult—who managed to get himself and his young bride deported from Britain . . . her struggle to care for her polio-stricken daughter, Gogo, as a single and financially destitute mother living in Greenwich Village. 

Secrest writes of Schiaparelli’s keen instincts—an astute businesswoman, she launched herself into hats, hose, soaps, shoes, handbags, in the space of a few years. By 1930, her company was grossing millions of francs a year. Secrest chronicles her exploits during World War II (she managed to escape from Europe to the United States) and, using FBI files, shows that during Schiaparelli’s stay in New York, her whereabouts were documented almost week by week; she was never explicitly charged, but the cloud of collaboration lingered long after her return to Paris. 

As Secrest traces the unfolding of this dazzling career, she reveals the spirit that gave shape to this large and extravagant life, a woman—a force—whose artistic vision forever changed the face of fashion and redefined the boundaries of art. (Förlagsinfo) 

Elsa Schiaparelli's Private Album by Marisa Berenson. Hardcover – December 1, 2014

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"Elsa Schiaparelli is one of the most important couturiers and taste-makers of the 20th century. She numbered among her collaborators the artists Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau, Christian Berard, and Marcel Vernet, resulting in such extraordinary couture collaborations as the lobster and parsley dress, based on a print by Salvador Dalí, and the Circus collection of gold-embroidered jackets, based on drawings by Cocteau. 

These artists also became personal friends of Schiaparelli's and made wonderful screens and other works of applied art for her house in Paris, photographs of the interiors of which have never been published. 

Now, the actress Marisa Berenson reveals her private archive of pictures of her much-loved grandmother's house in all its wit and eccentricity and pens an affectionate first-hand memoir of "Schiap.” (Förlagsinfo)

Shocking Life The Autobiography of Elsa Schiaparelliav Elsa Schiaparelli HÄFTAD Engelska.

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"Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) was one of the leading fashion designers of the 1920s and 1930s with a flair for the unusual. The first to use shoulder pads, animal print and the inventor of shocking pink, Schiaparelli collaborated with artists including Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti and Salvador Dali, to create extraordinary garments such as the Dali Lobster Dress. Schiaparelli had an affluent clientele, from Katherine Hepburn to Marlene Dietrich, who embraced her outrageous but elegant designs. She designed aviator Amy Johnson's wardrobe for her solo flight to Cape Town in 1936, the culottes for tennis champion Lily d'Alvarez that outraged the lawn tennis establishment, and her clothes appeared in more than 30 films including Every Day's a Holiday with Mae West and Moulin Rouge. Schiaparelli's fascinating autobiography charts her rise from resident of a rat-infested apartment to designer to the stars.” (Förlagsinfo)

Vogue on: Elsa Schiaparelli (Vogue on Designers) Hardcover – 2012. In stock on November 14, 2018

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"Vogue called Elsa Schiaparelli a genius madder and more original than her contemporaries, championing and illustrating her designs from the first picture of the revolutionary Bow Knot sweater in 1927 through to the Surrealist Tear Dress and Shoe Hat of the late 1930s.” (Förlagsinfo)



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