Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli Opens at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The line between what is fashion and what is art has always been blurry, whether you’re referencing Salvador Dali’s jewelry, or taking in the red carpet at the Met Gala. In 2022 we are comfortable with designers and/or artists whose work exists happily undefined somewhere amid these categories. When Elsa Schiaparelli was creating her work in the early twentieth century, she was distinctly ahead of her time. Free from the confines of high society, Schiaparelli worked alongside the Parisian avant-garde to create garments that pushed the boundary of what is a piece of clothing to what is a wearable work of art. Fittingly, Paris Couture Week for Fall/Winter 2023 is kicking off with new exhibit of the avant garde couturier’s oeuvre. From July 6th, 2022, to January 22nd, 2023, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris invites visitors to explore Schiaparelli’s work with Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli.

This retrospective includes 272 silhouettes and accessories by Schiaparelli that are presented alongside paintings, sculptures, jewelry, perfumes, ceramics, posters, and photographs by artists in the Parisian avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. Schiaparelli’s friends and contemporaries in this show include Man Ray, Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau, Meret Oppenheim and Elsa Triolet.

Schiaparelli and Dalí collaborated on an evening gown with a large lobster printed on the front that is on view in the exhibit.

lobster dress

The Lobster dress. Made in collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvator Dalí.

Christophe Delliere

The exhibition begins chronologically with themed rooms include the Pagan Collection, the Butterfly Collection, and the Music Collection, and a reconstruction of Schiaparelli’s couture salon. The show ends with a contemporary piece made by Daniel Roseberry, the creative director of the house of Schiaparelli. This finale highlights how Elsa Schiaparelli’s influence has given the brand a distinct voice and direction that has remained clear to this day. Given that couture is all about highlighting the very finest of crafstmanship and handmade high fashion, there is no better tribute than to one of the OG couturiers who set the standard for fashion that pushed boundaries. If you’re in Paris this year, or simply a lover of all things fashion, be sure to add this show to your to-do list!

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