The Resurgence of Schiaparelli

Avant-garde, centric, fun, and shocking are the four primary words that best describe the work of fashion icon, Elsa Schiaparelli. This blog post dives into the history of Elsa Schiaparelli (who was Elsa Schiaparelli?), the rebirth of Schiaparelli, and takes a look at Schiaparelli’s jewelry line.

Feature Image Source: Schiaparelli Instagram


Elsa Schiaparelli. Elsa Schiaparelli. Elsa Schiaparelli.
Image Source: Free to Be Kitsch Image Source: The Coincidental Dandy Image Source: On Pins and Needles

The first decades of the 20th century in fashion were of experimentation. New social orders, technological developments, and emancipation of women. Paris was the most Avant-Garde of all cities between WWI and WWII, those who wanted to be free spirated and express themselves creatively would move to the city. This era was a moment of artistic movements, developments, and ideas. It was at this time, that Schiaparelli the brand was born. Unlike the majority of the couturiers of this period, Elsa Schiaparelli came from a privileged background.

Elsa Schiaparelli as a child.
Elsa Schiaparelli as a child.

Elsa Schiaparelli was born in Rome in 1890 in a palace known as Palazzo Corsini which is today The Geleri Nationale de Art Antica. Elsa’s mother, Maria-Luisa Schiaparelli was a Neopolitan Aristocrat. Her father, Celestino Schiaparelli was a scholar who specialized in Islamic culture of the middle ages, an authority in the studies of Sanskrit, and a dean at the University of Rome. Elsa’s uncle, Giovanni Schiaparelli was an Italian astronomer who discovered the Martian Canals. Her cousin, Ernesto Schiaparelli was an Egyptologist who discovered Queen Nefertari’s tomb in Deir el-Medina in the Valley of the Queens. Just to put it into context, this was the type of environment Elsa Schiaparelli was brought up in which contributed to the ideation of her work.

   Giovanni Schiaparelli. Ernesto Schiaparelli.
Giovanni Schiaparelli (Image Source: Quote Park) Ernesto Schiaparelli (Image Source: Alchetron)

In July 1914, Elsa Schiaparelli went on to marry Count William de Wendt de Kerlor, a man who claimed to have psychic powers and many academic credentials in Psychology. The two moved to New York where Elsa Schiaparelli grew close with Surrealists and Dadas. In 1924, the two divorced, and Elsa went on to live in Paris. This was where her love for fashion design sparked.

Elsa Schiaparelli and her ex-husband, Count William de Wendt de Kerlor.
Elsa Schiaparelli and her ex-husband, Count William de Wendt de Kerlor. (Image Source: Pinterest)

Although Elsa Schiaparelli was receiving financial support from her family, she wanted to be independent and in a time of women liberation, she did just that. One of the most famous couturiers of this time was French fashion designer, Paul Poiret. Schiaparelli befriended Poiret who inspired her to start a fashion label of her own.

Elsa Schiaparelli.
Elsa Schiaparelli at work. (Image Source: Pinterest)

Come the 1930s every famous person was wearing Schiaparelli from American actress Wallis Simpson to American socialite Mae West.

Elsa Schiaparelli went on to win the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award making her the first European to receive this award. In 1954, Elsa decided to close her fashion house and end her fashion career. In 1973, Elsa Schiaparelli died at the age of 83.

The Resurgence of Schiaparelli

In 2006, Diego Della Valle purchased Schiaparelli archives. Come 2012, Schiaparelli returns with a celebratory collection. In 2014, Schiaparelli returned to the runway in time for the Spring couture season with Italian fashion designer, Marco Zanini as the creative director. Today, Schiaparelli’s creative director is American fashion designer, Daniel Roseberry. Roseberry’s collections for Schiaparelli have made headlines.

On Joe Biden’s inauguration as president of the United States, Lady Gaga wore a gown by Schiaparelli which featured a big skirt and a large dove brooch (now available to purchase – see below).

Lady Gaga. Elsa Schiaparelli work.
Lady Gaga wearing Schiaparelli at Joe Biden’s Inauguration.  A Schiaparelli original insect jewelry brooch.

Recent Schiaparelli collections have been channeling some iconic creations.

Kim Kardashian.
Kim Kardashian wearing Schiaparelli at a 2020 Christmas party. A six-pack bodice is in molded leather rubbed to be Jaguar green, the skirt is absinthe silk velvet, paired with oversized pendant earrings. (Image Source: Daniel Roseberry Instagram).

The Schiaparelli brand has also been investing in jewelry creations that are outstanding and surreal.

Julia Fox wearing Schiaparelli.
Julia Fox wearing Schiaparelli at the Schiaparelli Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2022 (Image Source: Richie Shazam)

Schiaparelli Jewelry

Schiaparelli Gilded Pewter Brooch. Schiaparelli Visage Necklace.
Schiaparelli Gilded Pewter Brooch Schiaparelli Visage Necklace
Schiaparelli Cocteau Eye Bangle. Schiaparelli Finger Ring.
Schiaparelli Cocteau Eye Bangle Schiaparelli Finger Ring

Shop Schiaparelli.

As one can see, Schiaparelli was a pioneer and remains relevant to the present day. Are there any iconic Schiaparelli pieces from the past and the present that particularly stood out to you? Are you lucky enough to own Schiaparelli jewelry? If so, show it off in the comments section below.

Avant-Garde: Fab or Fail?

Written by Bianca Mac Donald

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