The first fashion collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali took place in 1936 when he offered his friend a drawing with this caption: “suit with semi-rigid and soft drawers, material imitation stripped chain, drawer pulls in natural oak - For Schiaparelli. Her friend Salvador Dali, 1936”.
This drawing gave rise to the series of suits and coats with drawer pockets that Schiaparelli showed in her Winter 1936-1937 Haute Couture collection. Made in navy blue velvet, the suit was embellished with five drawer pockets with black plastic knobs.
Cecil Beaton immortalised these creations in a series of surrealist photos, published in the magazine Vogue in 1936.
The surrealist source of the suit with “bureau-drawer” was made explicit in Cecil Beaton’s photograph of the original ensemble for the September 1936 issue of Vogue, where a model poses in an empty landscape against silhouetted rock-like forms. She holds the 15 June 1936 issue of Minotaure, with Dali’s cover illustration of a woman with the head of a minotaur/bull. The figure’s chest, an open drawer, recalls the suit’s pockets.
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