Elsa Schiaparelli: A Grand Revival
Elsa Schiaparelli, the famously provocative couturière, changed nearly everything about the esoteric fashion business. In 1927 her debut collection—featuring sweaters knit with surrealist trompe l’oeil images, led to a buying frenzy on both sides of the Atlantic. Schiaparelli’s designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists like her collaborators Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau, trying to emphasize the individuality of clothing personality, and strength of spirit. When World War II broke out 12 years later, effectively ending the era of Schiaparelli’s supremacy, only arch rival Coco Chanel could claim to have been more influential.
Schiaparelli’s success caused intense envy on the part of Coco Chanel, her greatest rival. The two were continuously compared and constantly competed with one another. While Chanel was minimalist and conservative, Schiaparelli was outrageous and flamboyant and the pair fought to achieve popularity with the Parisian fashionistas. The rivalry was also heightened by the fact that the two designers moved frequently in the same social circles, with similar ambitions and aspirations. Chanel once called Schiaparelli “that Italian artist who makes clothes”.
Yet Schiaparelli’s role in the creation of modern haute couture is little known. The other mainstays of the gilded Parisian world of high fashion—Chanel, Dior, and Saint Laurent, found ways to adapt to the radically new postwar environment and are still productive, worldwide brands. Schiaparelli did not adapt to the changes in fashion following World War II and her business closed in 1954.
But since Diego Della Valle (owner of Tod’s), bought the rights in 2007, rumours about a grand return for the fashion house Elsa Schiaparellia have pulsed through the fashion world. According to Vogue Italia and WWD, Diego della Valle is going to put the company among other legendary brands returning into their glory. He plans to reopen Maison Schiaparelli in Place Vendome just in time for Paris Fashion Week in June. The first sale products will probably be accessories, debuting in February 2013. But the most important thing – who will be the creative brain behind new vision of Elsa Schiaparelli’s legacy? The rumors oscillate between John Galliano, who denied those speculations, and Rodolfo Paglialunga as he has just finished working for Vionnet.
“This will be a close, but very modern, interpretation, with the aim of bringing back the brand’s ‘dream’ and all its modernity. We won’t be chasing the commercialism of the fashion world: this is a project that aims for the best in terms of taste and quality, and will provide all the calm necessary to achieve that,” Diego Della Valle has said.