Tag Archives: couture

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/


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.



Filed under fashion, vintage

currently: fighting the urge to high-five and/or lick computer screens

excuse the sloppy graphic, i just needed some visuals to accompany my latest post. i come to you with yet more reading assignments, but this time paired with a bit of eye-candy. today i came across yet another great read courtesy of minh-ha t. pham (of threadbared, Of Another Fashion and all around badass self) was published at the Ms. Magazine‘s blog today, entitled If the Clothes Fit: A Feminist Takes on Fashion. here’s just a little taste:

If fashion has been used to introduce new ways of expressing womanhood, it has also been a tether that keeps women’s social, economic and political opportunities permanently attached to their appearances. At a time when makeover reality TV shows suggest that self-reinvention is not only desirable but almost required, and the ubiquity of social media encourages everyone to develop a “personal brand,” the pressure on women to be fashionable has never been more pervasive.

as with most of pham’s writing, i find myself resisting the urge to high-five my computer screen, and exclaim, “SO TRUE!” because it is! read it! it’s a fantastic argument in favour of fashion being accepted as a feminist issue, but seen as an integral part of identity politics. it also shines the spotlight on the important work a lot of online cultural critics (aka bloggers) have done to hold the fashion industry accountable for its missteps. it reinspires me at a time where i’ve been admittedly jaded about the state of fashion blogs, and frustrated by which ones get attention, and for what reasons… but here, pham puts us in mind of the major successes that can be credited to many fashion blogs. it’s also another excuse for me to re-read why i argued there was a need for feminist fashion blogs back in 2009.

it’s also one of the first articles on the subject i’ve read that adequately addresses race and class issues… others on the same topic (fashion! feminism! yes you can like both!) are worth reading as well, but a lot of times i find myself sighing at how cliché they tend to be. not only that, but how frustrating it is to be asked “how can fashion be feminist?” more times than i can count, and how difficult it is to answer that in a succinct and direct manner. but one thing pham accomplishes where i feel other writers have failed is shifting the focus away from straight white cis women who call themselves fashion lovers AND feminists. of course fashion can be a feminist issue for straight white cis women (even she cites the example of first wave feminists and suffragettes wore certain colours in their fight for the right to vote… but the right for rich, white women to vote), but not at the expense or erasure of the multitudes of other kinds of people who use fashion as a form of resistance, empowerment, and survival. i’m rambling, that’s how excited i am about this article. i’ll just end by saying that i can’t wait until we can move forward from arguing that fashion is a feminist issue to simply accepting that as a fact.

onto a slightly different topic now…

a screencap from the style.com website that reads FASHION SHOWS pre-fall 2012 Jazz Babies: bloggers are the new flappers at alberta ferretti's pre-fall show

a screencap from style.com calling bloggers the new flappers

i was initially tempted to click on the link for alberta ferretti’s pre-fall 2012 collection because of style.com’s tagline “bloggers are the new flappers.” my furrowed brow told me i had to find out more… sadly, what they really meant was alberta ferretti’s runway models included models, some celebrities, actresses, singers, even celebrities’ children… and three bloggers. who i’ve never heard of (but that might say more about my fashion blog frequenting than anything else). a more apt tagline would be “three bloggers walk the runway in flapper inspired outfits.” as much as i wish fashion bloggers were the new flappers, i don’t think the description fits… not even a little bit.

alberta ferretti pre-fall 2012alberta ferretti pre-fall 2012

alberta ferretti pre-fall 2012alberta ferretti pre-fall 2012

that said! i still REALLY loved some of the dresses. you know how good i would look in that purple one! and i’m such a sucker for cloche hats, even if these ones slightly resemble horse blinders. overall the collection is far too fur heavy for my stomach’s taste, but it is worth a look, and features some really beautiful garments. and shoes!

…speaking of unusual suspects popping up on the runway, these .gifs have been burning like wildfire through tumblr. and for good reason! check out willem dafoe, gary oldman, and many other babely actors looking dapper as fuck while modelling (acting?) in prada’s fall 2012 runway show. as prada could top enlisting my favourite pouter michael pitt as the face of their menswear collectiong! so before they get lost in the usual shuffle, i thought some of my readers might appreciate having them here.

you can see them all here if that tickles your fancy.

i should leave it at that! i’ve also got lots in the works for the coming months, more ideas than i can flesh out! and never enough time! but stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks. as always, you can follow me elsewhere on facebook and twitter.


Filed under currently, fashion, politics