The Schiaparelli-Dali collaboration took a bold turn with the famous tear dress. Presented during the Le Cirque (Circus) collection of 1938, this evening dress was printed with a trompe-l'oeil motif creating the illusion of strips of flesh, accentuated by fabric appliques. For some, it represents an expression of “punk” several decades before the emergence of that movement. It was shown with a “circus big top” headdress.
This creation recalls two of Dali's paintings: Necrophiliac Springtime (1936), which was in Schiaparelli's art collection, and Three Young Surrealistic Women Holding in Their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra (1936). These paintings show women whose bodies and clothes appear melted, so that it is impossible to differentiate between their skinned flesh and the rips in the fabric of their dresses.
Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art