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The History of the House

1920s
1920s
1930s
1940s
1950s
1970s
...
2010s
2020s
The story of the house
Woman’s sweaters
courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art

1927

THE TROMPE L’ŒIL AND THE CREATION OF SCHIAPARELLI

Elsa Schiaparelli creates her first trompe l’œil motif on a hand-knit sweater for herself. The black and white pullover boasts the illusion of a bow, pierced heart, skeleton, or a sailor tattoo. Admirers are drawn to the chic optical illusion effect of Elsa’s sweater and it achieves immediate international popularity, serving as the catalyst to the creation of the House.
Archives Schiaparelli
Archives Schiaparelli
All rights reserved

1929

LAUNCH OF THE FRAGRANCE “S”

Elsa Schiaparelli names her first fragrance “S”. The designer had long attached an air of mystery and superstition to the letter. The initial becomes the first letter most of the House's and has since appeared as a motif within Schiaparelli.

FIRST COLLABORATION
WITH ARTISTS

Elsa Schiaparelli’s first collaboration is with Russian-French writer Elsa Triolet to create the iconic Aspirin Necklace, which is composed of porcelain beads that are reminiscent of the pain-relieving tablets. This marks the first long line of Elsa’s collaborations and she later works with the greatest minds of her time, including Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, and more.

1931

© Art Digital Studio
copyright Musée d’Évreux
Katharine Hepburn
© The Kobal Collection
Bachrach, Ernest

1932

FIRST SERIES OF SURREALIST ACCESSORIES

The Mad Cap is an ever-versatile hat that hugs the head and has a pointed tip. The piece is widely copied and, in turn, becomes an international success. The hat is evocative of Schiaparelli’s penchant for designing one-of-a-kind millinery and outré accessories.
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1934

TIME COVER

Elsa appears on the cover of Time, the first woman designer to ever achieve this honor.  The article refers to her as “one of the arbiters of ultra-modern Haute Couture”.
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1934

FRAGRANCE TRIO

The House launches a trio of perfumes: Soucis, Salut, and Schiap. The modern bottles are designed by the French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank, a longtime collaborator of Elsa’s. The set of scents is intended to be worn during different times of the day, a pioneering concept in the olfactory world. Schiap for daytime, Soucis for cocktail hour, and Salut for the evening.
Elsa Schiaparelli
© Ministère de la Culture
Médiathèque du Patrimoine,
Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar

1935

21
PLACE
VENDÔME

The Couture House moves to Hôtel de Fontpertuis in the 21 place Vendôme. The space is five stories, 98 rooms, and a ground-floor boutique. It is designed by famed interior designer Jean-Michel Frank in collaboration with Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. This is the first modern interpretation of a Couture House in which there is a boutique and an atelier in one building.
Archives Schiaparelli
Archives Schiaparelli

FIRST DALÍ COLLABORATION

The first collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and artist Salvador Dalí is a compact powder case that takes the form of a rotary phone dial. This creation marks the beginning of the duo’s long design relationship and their surrealist visions.
Archives Schiaparelli
Archives Schiaparelli

NEWSPAPER PRINT

The collection “Stop, Look, and Listen” featured newspaper print, specifically press clips that featured Schiaparelli news. Elsa’s clever self-referential take on media is still echoed on today’s runways.
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Elsa Schiaparelli releases the Shocking fragrance at the same time as Shocking Pink. Elsa envisions it as a couture perfume, which meticulous–and audacious–detail is dedicated to the bottle, packaging, and advertising. The bottle’s shape is modeled after a dressmaker’s dummy that is based on the body of Mae West’s for whom Elsa designed at the time. In classic trompe l’oeil form, a measuring tape is draped along the bottle’s shoulders. It is an instant bestseller and remained so for nearly three decades.

SHOCKING: PINK & PERFUME

1937

Archives Schiaparelli
Archives Schiaparelli
Duchess of Windsor by Cecil Beaton
courtesy of the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

LOBSTER DRESS

Socialite Wallis Simpson, who soon becomes the Duchess of Windsor after she marries the former King-Emperor Edward VIII, chooses to wear Schiaparelli for her honeymoon trousseau. Most famously, Simpson wears the now-iconic lobster dress, a collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí, which is featured in an eight-page spread in Vogue.
Woman’s evening coat courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art

1938

ZODIAC COLLECTION

Elsa paves the way for modern ready-to-wear and Haute Couture with her 1938 collection by giving it a theme: the zodiac. One of the most iconic pieces is a cape that is embroidered by Lesage with all things celestial. On the back is an embroidered sunray mask in tinsel and gold thread. It is the ultimate example of Elsa’s love of flamboyant style, demonstrating her love for rich fabrics, embroidery, and adornments.

1939

SNUFF FRAGRANCE

Elsa Schiaparelli launches are her only men’s fragrance, Snuff. It is a daring reference to smoking, a key element of manhood of the time. Following a signature surrealist theme, the bottle is inspired by famous René Magritte paintings and comes in the shape of a pipe while the packaging is in the style of a cigar box.
Archives Schiaparelli
Archives Schiaparelli

1940

SLEEPING FRAGRANCE

Elsa debuts her fragrance “Sleeping” in 1940. The innovative fragrance, created by Jean Carles, is made to be sprayed at night and transport the wearer to a celestial atmosphere. In signature Schiap style, the piece’s design, adheres to a trompe l’oeil concept. Perpetually dedicated to a theme, Elsa pairs the bottle with a turquoise blue snuffer.
Wool jumpsuit
© Hulton Deutsch Collection/Corbis

THE COLLECTION
BEFORE THE WAR

The “Cash and Carry” collection puts a utilitarian spin on Haute Couture during World War II. The jumpsuits are created with large zips and pockets, which are intended to hold the equivalent of a handbag. Some suits, named “siren suits”, come with integrated bags to pre-empt air raids. Camouflage print is introduced for the first time in Haute Couture.
Elsa Schiaparelli holding large hat © Bettmann/CORBIS

1941

MOVE TO THE UNITED STATES

Elsa Schiaparelli sets off to live in New York until 1945. However, she keeps her Couture House open, under the supervision of her right-hand man to maintain her company’s economic and social role. From the United States, Elsa continues to help France through many initiatives across the Atlantic, which includes Elsa creating 13,000 vitamin capsules for the movement of Free France.
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1945

THE AFTER WAR

Elsa Schiaparelli returns to her Couture House in July and presents a new collection in September. She participates in the Théâtre de la Mode exhibition with the goal of relaunching Haute Couture in France.

PIERRE CARDIN

Pierre Cardin joins the studio for a few months.
Copyright Gallica,
National Library of France

1946

THE TRAVELING WARDROBE

Elsa Schiaparelli creates the concept of a capsule collection specifically made for traveling with the “Constellation Wardrobe”, which lays the foundations for modern ready-to-wear. It contains six dresses, one reversible hat, and three folding hats, which altogether weighs under six kilograms. The wardrobe is a sensation as it represents the emancipation of women and anticipates their more frequent travels.
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LE ROY SOLEIL

Salvador Dalí and Elsa Schiaparelli collaborate on the scent Le Roy Soleil. The bottle and the advertising is created by Dali. The glass bottle is shaped like a sun to represent Louis XIV, the Sun King.
Archives Schiaparelli
Archives Schiaparelli

1947

SCHIAPARELLI PERFUME FACTORY

The House experiences such success with perfume that a factory in the suburbs of Paris is built.

GIVENCHY IS HIRED

Hubert de Givenchy is hired as creative director of the Schiaparelli boutique and stays there for four years before launching his own Couture House.
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1950

TUXEDO DRESS

The first tuxedo dress makes its debut in the 1950 Haute Couture collection. The piece features experimentation with diagonal buttoning.
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1951

EYEWEAR CREATIONS

Elsa Schiaparelli ventures into the world of eyewear with a pair of bejeweled tortoiseshell glasses adorned with fringe cellophane.

LINGERIE LICENSE IN THE UNITED STATES.

The House releases a lingerie license in the United States under the name “Schiaparelli couture lingerie”.

1952

EYEWEAR LICENSE

The House is the first to license sunglasses. A visionary, Elsa Schiaparelli anticipates this trend, creating a key business strategy that brands still employ to this day. Licenses later expanded abroad.
Archives Schiaparelli
Black bouclé shetland stole with oversized insect pin
© Condé Nast Archive/Corbis

OVERSIZE JEWELRY

Oversized jewelry becomes a signature of Schiaparelli. She creates iconic pieces such as a giant bee brooch. It also leads her to collaborate with the likes of Salvador Dalí who makes a bejeweled mouth brooch with pearl teeth and ruby lips.

1953

MOULIN ROUGE

Elsa Schiaparelli creates the iconic costumes of Zsa Zsa Gabor for John Houston’s film Moulin Rouge, including a Shocking Pink number.

1954

CLOSURE OF THE MAISON

Elsa Schiaparelli decides to close the Couture House and devotes herself to her autobiography Shocking Life.

1973

Elsa Schiaparelli passes away in her sleep.
Elsa Schiaparelli © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
...
Archives Schiaparelli

2012

RE-OPENING VENDÔME

The Couture House goes back to its roots and re-opens at Hôtel de Fontpertuis at 21 place Vendôme.

2013

IN JULY, MONSIEUR CHRISTIAN LACROIX DESIGNS A HAUTE COUTURE COLLECTION DEDICATED TO ELSA SCHIAPARELLI.

Christian Lacroix by Jean-Paul Goude
courtesy Vanity Fair US.
Archives Schiaparelli

2014

THE FIRST HAUTE COUTURE RUNWAY SHOW SINCE 1954 TAKES PLACE AT PARIS FASHION WEEK.

Archives Schiaparelli
Archives Schiaparelli

2017

HAUTE COUTURE LABEL

Schiaparelli is awarded the official Haute Couture label by the French Ministry of Industry and the French Couture Federation. The Schiaparelli signature appears in none other than Shocking Pink.

2019

IN APRIL, DANIEL ROSEBERRY IS APPOINTED AS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF SCHIAPARELLI.

Archives Schiaparelli

2021

SCHIAPARELLI DRESSES LADY GAGA

Lady Gaga wears Schiaparelli Haute Couture to sing the national anthem at the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden. On her chest is a gilded brass dove holding an olive branch as a symbol of harmony and peace.
Archives Schiaparelli
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