Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)
3/4 x 27 1/2 in. (1.9 x 69.9 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. The Surrealist art scene of Paris in the 1930s was a major influence on Schiaparelli, and references to that movement frequently materialize in her designs. Here, in a belt from the fall 1938 Pagan collection owned by Millicent Rogers, Schiaparelli uses a bug ornament as the buckle. As Dilys Blum states in "Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli," many designs from this collection featured earthy decorations inspired by Botticelli's paintings, like flowers, fruits, animals and insects. The cicada, a slightly sinister insect, arrives in droves and causes destruction, an unusual choice for a decoration on a high fashion accessory, but typical of Schiaparelli's penchant for including surreal iconography. In the Brooklyn Museum collection, other iconic pieces from the Pagan collection that feature insects, also owned by Rogers, include a suit (see 2009.300.2374a, b) and necklace (see 2009.300.1234).
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