Elsa Schiaparelli: a biography

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Her name was Elsa Schiaparelli. She was known as the Queen of Fashion; a headline attraction in the international glitter-glamour show of the late twenties and thirties, feted in Rome (where she was born), Paris, New York, London, Moscow, Hollywood . . . Her style was a social revolution through clothing--luxurious, eccentric, ironic, sexy . Her fashions, inspired, from the whimsical to the most practical--from a Venetian cape of the commedia dell''arte to the Soviet parachute. She collaborated with some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century: on jewelry designs with Jean Schlumberger; on clothes with Salvador Dalí (his lobster dress for her, a lobster garnished with parsley painted on the skirt of an organdy dress, was instantly bought by Wallis Simpson for her honeymoon with the Duke of Windsor); with Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti, Christian Bérard, photographers Baron Adolph de Meyer, Horst, Cecil Beaton, and the young Richard Avedon. She was the first designer to use rayon and latex, thick velvets, transparent and waterproof, and cellophane. Her perfume--Shocking!--was a bottle in the shape of a bust sculpted by Léonor Fini, inspired by the body of Mae West. Her boutique at an eighteenth-century palace at 21 Place Vendôme opened into a cage designed by Jean-Michel Frank. American Vogue , in 1927, presented her entire collection as Works of Art. A decade later, she was the first European to win the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award. Here is the never-before-told story of this most extraordinary fashion designer, perhaps the most extraordinary fashion designer of the twentieth century, in her day more famous than Chanel. Meryle Secrest, acclaimed biographer, who has captured the lives of many of the twentieth century''s most iconic cultural figures, among them: Frank Lloyd Wright, Bernard Berenson, and Modigliani, gives us the first full life of the grand couturier--surrealist and embattled figure--whose medium was apparel. "Dare to be different," Schiaparelli advised women, and she lived it to the height; a rebel against convention--social as well as fashion. She designed an otter-fur bathing suit and a hat inspired by a lamb chop. ("I like to amuse myself," she said. "If I didn''t, I would die.") Chanel, her arch rival, called her, "that Italian woman who makes dresses." Here is the story of Schiaparelli''s rise to fame (as brazen and unique as any of the artistic creations that emerged from her Paris workrooms before World War II); her emotionally starved upbringing in Rome (her mother was part Scottish, part Neapolitan; her father, a prominent medieval scholar specializing in Islamic manuscripts, dean of the faculty of Rome; her uncle, an astronomer famous for his description in 1877 of "canals" on Mars); her years overshadowed by a prettier sister; her elopement with a Swiss-born man who claimed to be a count, disciple of mysticism and the occult--who managed to get himself and his young bride deported from Britain . . . her struggle to care for her polio-stricken daughter, Gogo, as a single and financially destitute mother living in Greenwich Village. Secrest writes of Schiaparelli''s keen instincts--an astute businesswoman, she launched herself into hats, hose, soaps, shoes, handbags, in the space of a few years. By 1930, her company was grossing millions of francs a year. Secrest chronicles her exploits during World War II (she managed to escape from Europe to the United States) and, using FBI files, shows that during Schiaparelli''s stay in New York, her whereabouts were documented almost week by week; she was never explicitly charged, but the cloud of collaboration lingered long after her return to Paris. As Secrest traces the unfolding of this dazzling career, she reveals the spirit that gave shape to this large and extravagant life, a woman--a force--whose artistic vision forever changed the face of fashion and redefined the boundaries of art.
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 26b78d3c-c0e6-409c-6758-4ed8bc5fea4c
Grouping Title elsa schiaparelli
Grouping Author secrest meryle
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-02-16 23:36:02PM
Last Indexed 2019-02-16 00:22:46AM

Solr Details

accelerated_reader_point_value 0
accelerated_reader_reading_level 0
author Secrest, Meryle,
author_display Secrest, Meryle
available_at_catalog Green Hills, Green Hills Kids
collection_catalog Biography
detailed_location_catalog Green Hills - Adult Biography
display_description "The first biography of the grand couturier, surrealist, and embattled figure (her medium was apparel), whose extraordinary work has stood the test of time"--
format_catalog Book, eBook
format_category_catalog Books, eBook
id 26b78d3c-c0e6-409c-6758-4ed8bc5fea4c
isbn 030770159, 9780307701596, 9780385353274
item_details ils:CARL0000444045|35192046550699|Green Hills - Adult Biography|B S329e|||1|false|false|||||On Shelf||GH||, overdrive:fc60b526-aad7-410e-9ead-419268c06ac2|-1|Online OverDrive Collection|Online OverDrive|eBook|eBook|1|false|true|OverDrive|||Adobe EPUB eBook,Kindle Book,OverDrive Read|Available Online||||
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last_indexed 2019-02-16T06:22:46.432Z
lexile_score -1
literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_catalog B S329e
owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Green Hills, Green Hills Kids
primary_isbn 9780307701596
publishDate 2014
record_details ils:CARL0000444045|Book|Books|First edition.|English|Alfred A. Knopf,|2014.|xx, 377 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm., overdrive:fc60b526-aad7-410e-9ead-419268c06ac2|eBook|eBook||English|Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|2014|
recordtype grouped_work
Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
ils:CARL0000444045 35192046550699 On Shelf On Shelf false true true false false true
overdrive:fc60b526-aad7-410e-9ead-419268c06ac2 -1 Available Online Available Online false true true false false false
subject_facet Fashion designers -- Italy -- Biography, Schiaparelli, Elsa, -- 1890-1973, Surrealism and design, Women fashion designers -- Italy -- Biography
title_display Elsa Schiaparelli : a biography
title_full Elsa Schiaparelli : a biography / Meryle Secrest, Elsa Schiaparelli A Biography
title_short Elsa Schiaparelli :
title_sub a biography
topic_facet Art, Biography & Autobiography, Fashion designers, History, Nonfiction, Schiaparelli, Elsa, Surrealism and design, Women fashion designers