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Elsa Schiaparelli and the Many Artists She Inspired

Portrait of Nusch Eluard wearing Schiaparelli by Pablo Picasso, 1937. : © SuccessionPicasso 2017/©RMN-Grand Palais (musée national Picasso - Paris)/Adrien Didierjean

Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli was known for her artistic flair, which fueled her rivalry with Coco Chanel. Chanel famously dismissed Schiaparelli as that Italian artist who makes clothes” and once tried to set her on fire at a high-society ball in the 1930s. (She pushed Schiaparelli into a chandelier of blazing candles, and guests put out the flames with soda water.) Schiaparelli continued to champion surrealist art in pieces like her provocative lobster dress, which she created with Salvador Dalí.

The new book Schiaparelli and the Artists, out October 3 from Rizzoli, traces the exchange of ideas between Schiaparelli’s flashy aesthetic and a long list of artists who inspired her work, including DalíPablo PicassoAndy Warhol, and René Magritte. Authors André Leon Talley, Suzy Menkes, and Christian Lacroix gathered rare images and anecdotes for the book’s pages, some of which were printed in Schiaparelli’s signature bright pink. They delve into how she used mind-bending touches of surrealism and the avant-garde in everything from her fragrances to a pair of black monkey-fur boots.

Most of all, the book offers a look into how artists used Schiaparelli herself as a muse. Picasso deconstructed her designs as abstractions, inspired by her Mediterranean influences. Dalí sketched his wife Gala wearing Schiaparelli’s shoe hat (a hat topped with a high-heeled shoe) and lips suit (a black suit embellished with lips). Click ahead to preview the book.

Schiaparelli and the Artists
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A model dressed in Schiaparelli in front of the Schiaparelli boutique, 1954. Following his first trip to Paris in 1956, Andy Warhol made drawings of Vespas captioned “Schiaparelli” — a nod to to the many Vespas parked outside the place Vendôme shop but also maybe the Vespa displayed in one of the windows of the Schiaparelli boutique.

Illustration for the fragrance Shocking by Marcel Vertès.

The collaboration between Marcel Vertès and Elsa Schiaparelli took numerous forms. It started in 1937, with the creation of colorful illustrations to promote the perfume Shocking.

Schiaparelli boots

René Magritte’s painting Love Disarmed inspired Elsa Schiaparelli’s black suede and monkey fur boots, 1938.

Illustration for the fragrance Sleeping by Marcel Vertès.

The collaboration between Marcel Vertès and Elsa Schiaparelli took numerous forms. It started in 1937, with the creation of colorful illustrations to promote the perfume Shocking. Vertès then worked on most of the Schiaparelli fragrances: Sleeping, Eau de Santé, Salut, Zut, and Snuff, as well as on cosmetics.

Trompe l’oeil leather gloves, Schiaparelli Haute Couture Winter 1936–1937 collection, echoing the 1935 Pablo Picasso/Man Ray work Trompe l’oeil.

Photo: © RMN - Grand Palais - Adrien Didierjean

Portrait of Nusch Eluard wearing Schiaparelli by Pablo Picasso, 1937.

Schiaparelli and the Artists, published October 3 by Rizzoli.

Elsa Schiaparelli and the Many Artists She Inspired