Savoir-Faire visit | Elsa Schiaparelli Exhibition - MUSÈE DES ARTS DÈCORATIFS

By Harshita Ande 
(GMBA - Luxury Brand Management)

The Luxury Brand Management track of GMBA at ESSEC had the opportunity to visit Elsa Schiaparelli exhibition at Musèe des Arts dècoratifs on November 17th. The grandeur of the entrance stayed true to the expectations we had for the visit.

The tour started with exquisite story telling of Elsa Schiaparelli, who was known for her amusing prints, by our inspiring guide and story-teller, guide Jean-Philippe Constant, Professor of the Ecole Camondo .Schiaparelli outdid herself in July 1937 with a particularly clever “passion thermometer” motif that depicted mercury rising between the poles of ‘Indifference’ and ‘Passion’ . More salient with regards to the state of fashion today is the designer’s renegade, and highly collaborative, approach to her work. Schiaparelli was self-taught. Her social standing and education had exposed her to style and the arts , and her sophisticated, often eccentric designs brought the thrill to the world of fashion.

Displayed on two levels, the exhibition is organized both thematically and chronologically around key moments in the career of Elsa Schiaparelli, linking her most remarkable collections from year to year with the works of friends and contemporaries who inspired her fashion designs. These works are placed throughout the exhibition, punctuating important stages in Schiaparelli’s life and the evolution of her design. The introductory room, a vast and immersive space, is dedicated to the drawings of the couturière which number in their hundreds, conveying the extent of her work. The awakening of the artist in fashion and modernity is explored alongside the defining role that designer Paul Poiret played as a mentor in Schiaparelli’s life beginning in 1922.The mythical tandem formed by Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí, muzzled by a spicy taste of scandal and artistic provocation, is highlighted in a room dedicated to him revealing the iconic "lobster dress" or the famous "shoe hat", a kind of surrealist bibi.

She develops her acute sense of detail through models largely inspired by the Surrealist aesthetic, introducing marvelous patterns and materials in transparent plastics, crawfish shaped buttons, “drawer pockets,” and lobsters. 

The exhibition continues with thematic collections that Elsa Schiaparelli initiates alone around sources of inspiration that are dear to her – Italian antiquity, nature and music. Known for her originality and taste for surrealism, seamstress Elsa Schiaparelli has worked with several artists, including her friend Jean Cocteau. In 1937, she used some of her drawings to decorate three of her creations like tailor embroidered “WOMAN’S HEAD” - on a grey linen jacket, “ELIC” Brooch - eye-shaped brooch, embellished with a tear-shaped pearl, Schiaparelli coat embroidered with two faces in TROMPE L'ŒIL AND SHOCKING ROSES.

Reminiscing how awestruck the whole cohort was experiencing the style and uniqueness of the exhibition, we went back hoping to continue creating these wonderful memories in our next visit as well.

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