Designer: Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)

Date: spring 1939

Culture: French

Medium: wool, silk

Credit Line: Gift of Ruth Ford, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.479.4


More than any other designer working in Paris during the mid-to late-1930s, Schiaparelli epitomized the giddy, blithe world occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. As Bettina Ballard commented in her autobiography In My Fashion, 'Her daring nonsense - fish-shaped buttons, monkey hats, fox-head gloves, skunk coats, lobster prints, bold colors - plus a true sense of hard chic made her exactly right for those last, frivolous, extravagant years before World War II.' Her Commedia dell'arte collection was perhaps her most theatrical and fantastical. Introduced by the strains of Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Pergolese and Cimarosa, it represented Schiaparelli's response to the deteriorating political situation in Europe.