Schiaparelli, Elsa [key], 1890–1973, French fashion designer, b. Rome. She established a house of couture in Paris that existed from the late 1920s until 1954, and opened a New York showroom in 1949. A flamboyant fashion innovator, she popularized brilliant colors, especially shocking pink, her signature color, and created extravagant, daring, amusing designs (e.g., bouffant gloves ballooning to the shoulders, phosphorescent brooches, and handbags that played tunes when opened). She was the first to use synthetic fabrics and visible zipper fastenings, she created the first wrap dress and the first scarf dress, and she was the first designer to open a boutique offering ready-to-wear clothing. She is also noted for her perfume (notably Shocking, her first and most famous); small hats; angular, wide-shouldered suits and dresses; turbans; walking coats; evening sweaters; halter necklines; cocktail dresses with matching jackets; and scarves. Schiaparelli also collaborated with such artists as Cocteau and Dalí.
See her autobiography, Shocking Life (1954); biographies by P. White (1986) and M. Secrest (2014); D. E. Blum, Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli (2003).
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