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no one elsa

Vogue Russia did an editorial in their January 2014 issue that got us really excited (we'll show you the full spread in a minute). They didn't say it outwardly, at least we don't think so, we don't read Russian very well, but it was inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli (Skap-a-reli), who is very, very awesome. We knew right then and there that it was time we talk Schiap...

elsa awesome logo.png

What do you do when you find yourself a foreigner in New York City, divorced, penniless, and you have a toddler in tow? Well you obviously move to Paris to become one of the biggest designers of your era with influence that stretches decades beyond your time. That's what Elsa did. Her career kickstarted when she knit a black and white trompe l'oeil sweater that was literally the talk of the town. People were getting stopped in the street: Where did you get that sweater?? I want one. I need one! Before you knew it, Schaip was featured in American Vogue and had her own workshop in Paris. And that was just the beginning.

Greatly influenced by the Dadaists and Surrealists of her time, she created unique, wild, whimsical and sometimes ridiculous fashion: gloves had sparkly gold fingernails stitched on; buttons were crickets, sugar cubes, or acrobats; shoes were hats and hats were shoes; ostriches, elephants and lobsters were going to galas in the form of gowns. Her collaborations with Salvador Dali created the kind of stuff that Lady Gaga dreams of, in fact, see the black skeleton dress in the image below? Lady Gaga revived it for her Bad Romance video. And Schiaparelli was making this stuff 80 years ago! Buuhhhh-nanas!

"Madder and more original than most of her contemporaries, Mme Schiaparelli is the one whom the word genius is applied most often," - Time magazine of Elsa when she appeared on their cover in 1934

You might think, Who in the thirties actually wore this wild, ahead-of-it's-time clothing? And the answer would be everyone. Or at least the who's who of society, including The Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson), Singer sewing machine heiress Daisy Fellowes, and actresses Mae West and Marlene Dietrich. (And yes, all of the links provided for these women direct you to an image of them wearing Schiaparelli! Gorgeous!)

Always seeking innovation, Schiap was the first designer to use synthetic fabrics for fashion, including rayon and latex. She was also the first to use zippers! I'm just going to stop and let you think about that for a minute. Zippers. She even had a patent for the support bra of a swimsuit! In 1930! Atta girl.

Here is Schiap (which was actually her nickname, "Skap") and a few of her creations:

elsa schiap.jpg

And here is the fantastic editorial that got us thinking about the lovely and talented Schiap. Side note: Since one of the big themes for the spring 2014 collections is art, you're sure to see designs from Céline, Prada, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and that "lips" dress from Saint LaurentEVERYWHERE. For example, Cate Blanchett on the January 2014 cover of Vogue wearing Céline.

Click on the image below to see the whole shoot, it's fantastic!

Vogue Russia January 2014
Photographer: Patrick Demarchelier
Model: Sasha Luss
Stylist: Olga Dunina
Make-Up: Polly Osmond
Hair: Neil Moodie

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