Necklace, Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973), synthetic, metal, French


Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)
Jean Clemént (French, 1900–1949)
fall 1938
synthetic, metal
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 1955
Accession Number:
Not on view
From the fall 1938 pagan collection, this iconic necklace epitomizes Schiaparelli's Surrealist tendencies, perhaps more than any other design she executed because of the unreal idea of insects crawling on your skin as a fashion statement. Because of the clear Rhodoid, a type of cellulose acetate plastic, the multicolored insects seem to be resting on the wearer's skin. Rhodoid was a newly developed material and Schiaparelli was unafraid of using inventive materials for her designs. She appreciated the avant-garde quality and element of surprise infused into the design by using unconventional materials. The pagan collection was inspired by Botticelli's lush paintings; therefore flowers, woodland creatures, foliage, and insects decorated dinner suits, evening gowns and accessories. The multicolored metal insects were also seen securing a ribbon hatband on a doll hat and resting on the collar of a suit (see 2009.300.2374a, b). This necklace was worn by Millicent Rogers (who also owned the suit previously mentioned), one of Schiaparelli's best clients who was brave enough to wear her outré designs.
Millicent Rogers Museum. "Millicent Rogers: Fashion and Identity," June 29, 2002–January 6, 2003.

Brooklyn Museum. "A Slice of Schiaparelli," October 20, 1995–March 24, 1996.

Brooklyn Museum. "From the Millicent Rogers Collection," August 1, 1982–April 30, 1983.

Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. "Fashion and Surrealism," October 29, 1987–January 23, 1988.

Brooklyn Museum. "American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection," May 7, 2010–August 1, 2010.

Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "High Style: Twentieth-Century Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection," March 14, 2015–July 19, 2015.

Cincinnati Art Museum. "High Style: Twentieth-Century Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection," November 7, 2015–January 24, 2016.