Vintage Schiaparelli pieces photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue US 2013

“She slapped Paris. She smacked it. She tortured it. She bewitched it. And it fell madly in love with her.”

Yves Saint Laurent on Elsa Schiaparelli

Words by Nina Van Volkinburg

Returning for its 32nd edition, the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography has announced Bertrand Guyon – creative director of the house Schiaparelli – as president for this year’s fashion award jury. Following last year’s homage to Paco Rabanne and its creative director Julien Dossena , the festival opens its doors to the iconic Maison Schiaparelli as its honouree.

The festival will celebrate influential designer Elsa Schiaparelli (although she preferred to be called Schiap), who in her legacy paved the way for prêt-à-porter and reinforced the bond between art and fashion through her many collaborations with avant-garde artists including Salvador Dalí and  Jean Cocteau (who will also be honoured this year through an exposition).

Schiaparelli and her artist counterparts, specifically those of the surrealism and dada movements, considered the raison d’être of fashion and art to be homogenous:  To enrich and enhance our understanding of the world which surrounds us.

Throughout her career, abstract art complimented her sartorial designs, resulting in a unique aesthetic which was eccentric, ironic (at time humorous), and functional yet incredibly flattering on the female form. Some of her most iconic collections revolved around astrology, tattoos, paganism, and the circus, which escalated her immense popularity with her loyal clients of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Schiaparelli: Master of combining Abstract art and fashion

Arguably, her most famous client was Wallis Simpson – wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor – who immortalised  the Lobster dress in 1937. To our delight the lobster dress has returned for the Schiaparelli spring summer 2017 haute couture collection thanks to the poetic creative leadership of Bertrand Guyon.

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Left: Lobster Dress worn by Wallis Simpson in 1937, Right: Haute Couture SS17


Schiaparelli, the mother of SHOCKING PINK, is correctly considered as one of the greatest designers of the century. It will be a joy to commemorate her contributions, next week in Hyères!

Click here, for more information on the relationship between Elsa Schiaparelli and Hyères festival founder Marie-Laure de Noailles.


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