Tag Archives: inspiration

currently: designer elsa schiaparelli

i’m often asked who my fashion “inspirations” are, but i’ve always been a bit hesitant for fear of falling into the traps of celebrity worship (as i explain in more detail here). but lately i’ve been seeing elsa schiaparelli’s designs and influences popping up all over the place, so i thought i’d share some of my affection for her work with my readers.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Paris, 1937 Photographer: Horst P. Horst

schiaparelli is one of those designers who has made such an important mark on our cultural aesthetics that we often don’t even notice it. she also happened to be awesome:

Schiaparelli was an ardent rebel and feminist who came of age at a moment of ferment in art and politics that ratified her disdain for conformity. Schiaparelli was involved with the Dada movement at its inception in Greenwich Village, after the First World War.

to top it off, she made gorgeous designs that even eighty years later, are astoundingly wearable and modern.

Plastic by Richard and Judith Long, 2011 which reminds me so much of Schiaparelli's 1938 design

who wouldn't want this as a compact mirror? hard to believe it was designed in 1935

Anna Batista does a great job pointing out how schiaparelli’s influence can be seen even in ready-to-wear collections from last season in her article about the evolution of vintage, Vintage Mutations. i think her point is best illustrated with these two pairs of sunglasses juxtaposed. which ones were made in 1937, and which in 2011?

perma-scowl often makes me half-laugh, half-cry in solidarity when she posts schiaparelli’s designs on her tumblr with comments like “crying over you” and “all of my sighs/crys.” some of her designs are just so astoundingly beautiful and you want them on your body so bad, it DOES feels tragic that you can’t. why yes, i am being a bit overdramatic, but drama is part of why i love her work! her collaborations with jean cocteau and salvador dali can attest to that.

Cocteau Jacket, 1937 by  Elsa Schiaparelli

Cocteau Jacket, 1937 collaboration with Elsa Schiaparelli

cocteau and schiaparelli collaboration

Photo of daring Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli modeling her Shoe Hat
Schiaparelli designed dress, Viscose-rayon and silk blend fabric printed with trompe l'oeil print

Tear Dress, collaboration with Dali

According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, “this dress was part of Schiaparelli’s famous ‘Circus Collection’ of 1938. It was a riotous, swaggering fashion show that attracted a great deal of publicity. Clothes were decorated with acrobats and performing animals. The models wore clown hats and carried balloon-shaped handbags. The Tears and Skeleton dresses must have been doubly shocking amongst all this madcap gaiety. Dali’s patron, Edward James, gave these dresses to Ruth Ford, the sister of the Surrealist poet Charles Henri Ford.” sounds like my kind of drama.

to top it off, recently my long-time internet friend ‘tine sent me this message along with a link:

Bonjour Julia-

I’m reading this fabulous article in the New Yorker about designers Shiaparelli and Prada. It references the politics of fashion, feminism, communism and thought of you.

Here’s the link: http://m.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/26/120326fa_fact_thurman/

Enjoy!
Christine

what a compliment! and what a great read. the article itself is more of a juxtaposition between Prada and Schiaparelli but still worth a read, regardless of your interest in either (or both) of those designers.

i could go on and on about how much i love her designs and her work and her collaborations with dali (which in my opinion are the best works dali produced) but instead i’ll just leave you with a bunch of photos of her gorgeous designs and some recommended reading. enjoy!

fall 1938

yes, the evening gowns are nice to look at for daydreaming purposes, but i can’t help but forever lust over her trompe l’oeil sweater designs from the 30s – which i could wear to work tomorrow.

Green, black and yellow wool Schiaparelli Sweater, 1930s

Wool Schiaparelli Sweater, 1930s

and last but not least, she is responsible for some awesome accessories – including these in your face frames.

Vintage Schiaparelli Cat Eye Eyeglasses Frame

Vintage Schiaparelli Cat Eye Eyeglasses Frames

in summary: someone please be my sugar mama/papa, buy me all of these things so i can drape myself in gorgeous art. please and thank you. i hope you enjoyed the eye candy.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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grimes appreciation post

grimes album cover for visions

the first time i heard a grimes song, i’ll admit i was on the fence. i was browsing on the cbc radio 3 website ages ago and came across some of her demos… but i was compelled enough to press the “like” button, so now the internet tells me i’ve been a fan since january 2010. even in may 2011 i wasn’t quite sure.

but after seeing her perform in july, i was sold. she was a fantastic performer, and seeing her on stage helped me get a better sense of what i think she’s trying to do. i’ve got a lot of admiration for pop stars who will play with the abject. not to mention, what talent! i’ve seen many a more seasoned musician tackle that many looping pedals and beat machines and trip up (*cough* owen pallet *cough*) but boucher did not miss a beat. not to mention the fact that the crowd was kind of mostly a bunch of talkative dicks, and she still doled out a great set.

lately, her name and face is popping up everwhere. she’s getting a lot more mainstream attention, thanks to a tour with lykke li and signing with 4AD. well, that, and the fact that her new album is kind of incredible. it was being streamed for free on NPR, and made for perfect background music as i tackled reading a handful of interviews with her… and some of the questions just struck me as so assinine. and i loved the way she responds to them. read for yourself:

Pitchfork: I feel like there’s something patently feminine about the way Visions sounds.

Claire Boucher: I hope not. I don’t want to think it’s patently girly. Vocally it is, because that’s where my capabilities lie, and my influences as far as pop goes are female stars. But production-wise and instrumentally, my biggest influences are primarily men: Aphex Twin, the Dungeon Family, OutKast, that kind of shit.

I also feel like those [gender] lines are changing. A couple of years ago, it wasn’t nearly as OK for guys to like girly-sounding music. But all of a sudden a lot of my guys friends who would like have been really disdainful of female singers are way more accepting. My brothers’ friends are all basketball jock-bros, and they really like Lykke Li and Robyn.

part of me agrees with her, but mostly i hope she’s right. i really hope the days of people saying “i don’t like music made by chicks” can be the way of the past. why do we need to constantly remind music journalists, reviewers and fans that ‘woman’ is not a genre of music? can’t we talk about her music, the inherently nostalgic quality of such a young person’s music,  her creative ways of playing with her appearance on stage rather than whether or not she is “patently feminine?” what, because she has a high-pitched voice? fuck that.

photo cred: marie jane / ashley, claire wearing jewelry by morgan black and dress by renata morales

photo cred: marie jane / ashley, claire wearing jewelry by morgan black and dress by renata morales

aaaaand this brings me to my final point – i fucking love her style. she’s messy, surly, playful, and seems like someone i’d really like to hang out with and have a living room dance party with. for her press photos and magazine shoots, she’s worked with a lot of montreal designers including one of my favourites, renata morales (who is also known for working with regine chassagne of arcade fire).

claire boucher photographed by raphael ouellet

claire boucher photographed by raphael ouellet

here’s how she describes her own style, from an interview with out magazine:

You’re also a pretty snappy dresser. How would you describe your style?

Tank Girl or sci-fi punk. I’m always wearing skirts that I’d cut shorter and just don’t hem. I always wear combat boots at all times—that’s the basis of everything, the combat boots. I have this really sick trench coat from the Korean war that I always wear, but when I do photo shoots that not my clothes really its what they bring.

hey guys! surprise! photoshoots are the mainstream equivalent of playing dress-up. i love it when pop stars and actors pop the bubble of fantasy illusion that they look and dress how they do in photoshoots in their real lives. in the end, i recommend you check out her new album visions, and catch her live if you can.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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