In the Frame: Schiaparelli's Circus Collection

INSIGHT • HISTORY'S RUNWAY


Some of Schiaparelli's best ideas came out of collaborations with Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau.


© Victoria and Albert Museum

© Victoria and Albert Museum

© Victoria and Albert Museum

The infamous ‘Tear dress’, for which Salvador Dali created the print. The dress is from the Schiaparelli ‘Circus Collection in 1938.  © Victoria and Albert Museum

The infamous ‘Tear dress’, for which Salvador Dali created the print. The dress is from the Schiaparelli ‘Circus Collection in 1938.

© Victoria and Albert Museum

Elsa Schiaparelli is a legendary fashion designer of the 30s, who known for her avant-garde, surrealist and artistic approach to fashion design. She had very close relationships with surrealist artist Salvador Dali and French writer Jean Cocteau, whom inspired her constantly through out their friendships.

She produced her most imaginative collections during the years of 1938 (Zagan, Pagan, Circus) and 1939 (Music and Commedia dell’Arte).

The jacket is part of the Schiaparelli’s Circus Collection of 1938. When Elsa Schiaparelli presented the collection, it was said to be the most riotous and swaggering fashion show that Paris had ever seen; making her the biggest rival of Coco Chanel during that period. Consisting four handmade, cast metal acrobat buttons, this bright pink woven silk jacket was one of the collections’ masterpieces and it still is a constant reference to innovation, craftsmanship and creativity.

Victoria and Albert Museum describes the jacket as;“The heavy buttons are attached to the cloth with with industrial slide hooks behind providing the actual fastenings. Such novel buttons and fastenings were a trademark of Schiaparelli’s work.”

Most of her designs are now museum pieces, proving that she was actually an artist, just working to be with garments.

© Victoria and Albert Museum

© Victoria and Albert Museum