Evening jacket

Design House Schiaparelli French
Designer Elsa Schiaparelli Italian

Not on view

In Paris during the mid- to late-1930s, the major sites of fashionability were the theatre, restaurant and nightclub. The dinner suit, usually consisting of a dress or skirt with a jacket, became extremely popular for its non-specificity. Its wearer could go to Fouquet's for cocktails, Maxim's for dinner, and the Ambassadeurs for dancing without the necessity of changing clothes.

Elsa Schiaparelli is credited with having invented the dinner suit in the early 1930s. Her original version comprised a simple, floor-length black dress and a white jacket with long sashes that crossed in the back but tied at the front, both in crêpe de Chine. As she comments in her autobiography Shocking Life, "It … created turmoil in the fashion world … [and] proved to be the most successful design of my career."

Evening jacket, Schiaparelli (French, founded 1927), silk, plastic (cellophane, celllulose nitrate), gelatin, leather, oil resin, French

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Left: 1974.181.4; Right: 1978.288.21a