Evening dress

Designer: Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)

Manufacturer: House of Lesage (French, founded 1922)

Date: fall 1939

Culture: French

Medium: silk, leather, plastic, metal

Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Millicent Huttleston Rogers, 1951

Accession Number: 2009.300.1165a, b


Music was the theme of Schiaparelli's fall,1939 collection. Correspondingly, she designed this white organza dress and gloves embroidered in metallic threads with musical-score notes and accessorized with a belt containing a working music box in the buckle. Cutout scrollwork shapes on the buckle top relate to those on a violin, forms immortalized in Man Ray's 1924 photograph "Le Violin d'Ingres." An elaboration of the Surrealist notion of woman's body as musical instrument, the wholly integrated creation captures the visual, audible, and transcendent essence of music in the person of the wearer.