Evening ensemble

Designer Elsa Schiaparelli Italian

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An excellent example of several hallmarks of Schiaparelli's career, Surrealist overtones and unusual closures, this evening ensemble from the summer 1940 collection was worn by one her most devoted clients, the stylish Millicent Rogers. The center of attention is the shield-shaped decorations. The orientation and pocket-like shape are reminiscent of Schiaparelli's "desk" suit, designed in collaboration with Salvador Dalí for the winter 1936-37 collection. The Surrealist idea of an object being other than what it seems was explored by Schiaparelli throughout her career. Although all the shields are identical, some act as pockets, while others are strictly decoration. Schiaparelli used unique closures throughout her career, such as these buttons, in the form of stylized gold ingots. The intentional use of off-beat closures is indicative of Schiaparelli's stance that fashion can be an artistic expression. The thoughtful construction of the dress in reference to the flattering orientation of the stripes, especially at the back waist and the skirt, is indicative of the feminine overtones of the summer 1940 collection.

Evening ensemble, Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973), silk, metal, wool, French

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