Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)
Attributed to Jean Clemént (French, 1900–1949)
2 1/8 x 26 1/2 in. (5.4 x 67.3 cm)
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 1955
Not on view
Schiaparelli often used her accessories, particularly belts, as avenues of expression for her Surrealist ideals. Buckles, clasps, decorations and belts themselves were made of unusual materials, such as plastic and plaster, and in quirky shapes that could elicit a viewer’s double-take. To pair such an off-beat accessory with a couture garment was just the kind of humorous irony Schiaparelli enjoyed incorporating into her work.
Schiaparelli's use of plastic in this example shows her desire to use avant-garde materials. The belt itself, a strip of black plastic, is fastened with carved plastic abstract horse head buckles. The horse head form is unnatural, almost snakelike, causing the viewer to wonder if their first perception of what it is is true or if it’s meant to be something else entirely. The look of the buckles is reminiscent of both wood and ivory. The rough hewn, jagged look of the carving is Schiaparelli's interpretation of a style of wood carving that was popular at the time.
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