Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Evening dress

Designer:
Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)
Date:
ca. 1948
Culture:
French
Medium:
silk
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Rodman A. Heeren, 1966
Accession Number:
2009.300.415a, b
Not on view
The deep burgundy textile of this at home dress, worn while entertaining friends at home, is indicative of Schiaparelli's penchant for using fascinating textiles, often with unexpected motifs. This example is patterned with a bird reminiscent of the phoenix, long a symbol of eternal life and resurrection. Schiaparelli often incorporated motifs linked to symbolism and current events in her designs. In the phoenix legend, the bird must die, usually by setting fire to itself, for a new phoenix to rise up from the ashes. As Europe was subjected to the tragedies and hardships of World War II, they too would recuperate and begin again. Although the birds on the dress are slightly menacing, the message is encouraging, that Europe, specifically France could recover from the war. The buttons down the side of the skirt are characteristic of Schiaparelli's desire to incorporate unusual closures, many times in unusual locations. The line of buttons draws the eye down the length of the wearer's body, elongating the silhouette.
Marking: Label: "Schiaparelli/21.place vendôme/Paris"
Tape label: " 94913"
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