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Fashion House Schiaparelli Appoints Marco Zanini

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There’s nothing like a fresh dose of history to start the morning. I definitely found myself in awe of the contributions made by Designer Elsa Schiaparelli to the fashion industry An innovator & a designer with the willingness to bring transcend “the norm,” we owe her for much of our loves in today’s trends.

Recently announced in the Associated Press:

PARIS, France — Designer Marco Zanini has been named creative director of the revived fashion house Schiaparelli.

The revival of the once legendary fashion house is one of the most anticipated Paris fashion events of recent years.

“Schiaparelli symbolizes the capacity to think and create in a different way. My wish is to make this mythical house live again,” said Zanini in a statement Monday.

Though Elsa Schiaparelli, the hated rival of Coco Chanel, is no longer a household name — her business folded in 1954, and she died in 1973 — her influential design firsts have lived on: newspaper prints, exposed zippers, perfume bottles in the female form, shocking pink and — arguably — the first woman’s power suit. 

Zanini will reveal his first collection during Paris couture week in January.

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Elsa Schiaparelli, 1937, wearing her own designs

Here’s a bit of history: Starting with knitwear, Schiaparelli’s designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists like her collaborators Salvador Dalí and Alberto Giacometti. Her clients included the heiress Daisy Fellowes and actress Mae West

The failure of her business meant that Schiaparelli’s name is not as well remembered as that of her great rival Chanel. But in 1934, Time placed Chanel in the second division of fashion, whereas Schiaparelli was one of “a handful of houses now at or near the peak of their power as arbiters of the ultra-modern haute couture….Madder and more original than most of her contemporaries, Mme Schiaparelli is the one to whom the word “genius” is applied most often”. At the same time Time recognized that Chanel had assembled a fortune of some US $15m despite being “not at present the most dominant influence in fashion”, whereas Schiaparelli relied on inspiration rather than craftsmanship and “it was not long before every little dress factory in Manhattan had copied them and from New York’s 3rd Avenue to San Francisco’s Howard Street millions of shop girls who had never heard of Schiaparelli were proudly wearing her models”.

Perhaps Schiaparelli’s most important legacy was in bringing to fashion the playfulness and sense of “anything goes” of the Dada and Surrealist movements. She loved to play with juxtapositions of colours, shapes and textures, and embraced the new technologies and materials of the time. With Charles Colcombet she experimented with acrylic, cellophane, a rayon jersey called “Jersela” and a rayon with metal threads called “Fildifer” – the first time synthetic materials were used in couture. Some of these innovations were not pursued further, like her 1934 “glass” cape made from Rhodophane, a transparent plastic related to cellophane. But there were more lasting innovations; Schiaparelli created wraparound dresses decades before Diane von Furstenberg and crumpled up rayon 50 years before Issey Miyake’s pleats and crinkles. In 1930 alone she created the first evening-dress with a jacket, and the first clothes with visible zippers. In fact fastenings were something of a specialty, from a jacket buttoned with silver tambourines to one with silk-covered carrots and cauliflowers.

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Sources: Wikipedia.org / Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

About the author

Maurice J. Lawyer has written 332 articles for BE Entertained Magazine

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