Schiaparelli's Circus Collection

Elsa Schiaparelli is somewhat of a legend in the fashion industry, mostly known as the Surrealist foil and foe of contemporary Coco Chanel.  She is a constant reference point for an avant-garde, intellectual, and artistic approach to design, having been connected with the Surrealist movement and even collaborating with Salvador Dali.  A fascinating figure—I highly recommend at least skimming over her Wikipedia page!

Many Schiaparelli works are now museum pieces, and it's not hard to see why.  The level of creativity, innovation, craftsmanship, and frankly, shock-power, is sure to garner study and attention for years to come.  

Artist Christian Berard frequently illustrated Schiaparelli's pieces.

Artist Christian Berard frequently illustrated Schiaparelli's pieces.

The one collection that I've found particularly inspiring as of late is her 1938 Circus Collection, which is representative of many of Schiaparelli's collections in its bold use of thematic subject matter, illustrative motifs, heavy embellishment, and custom collaboration with other artists.  

 

Many of Schiaparelli's custom buttons have been attributed to Jean Clement

Many of Schiaparelli's custom buttons have been attributed to Jean Clement

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Detailed embroidery and embellishment is a hallmark of Schiaparelli's illustrative work.

Detailed embroidery and embellishment is a hallmark of Schiaparelli's illustrative work.

Machine-embroidered dress detail.

Machine-embroidered dress detail.

Schiaparelli commissioned these and many other custom pendants and brooches from jeweler Jean Schlumberger, who is best known for his work at Tiffany & Co.

Schiaparelli commissioned these and many other custom pendants and brooches from jeweler Jean Schlumberger, who is best known for his work at Tiffany & Co.

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An embellished pattern piece ready to be sewn into a jacket.

An embellished pattern piece ready to be sewn into a jacket.

This heavily embellished piece became a bolero.

This heavily embellished piece became a bolero.

A print developed especially for the collection. 

A print developed especially for the collection. 

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The infamous "Tear" dress, for which Salvador Dali created the print.

The infamous "Tear" dress, for which Salvador Dali created the print.