Beautiful Vintage Photos From “Shocking – The Art & Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli”

The now scarce and out of print book “Shocking Schiaparelli” features beautiful images by the surrealist inspired fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli – one of the most influential designers of the 1930s & 1940s.

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Photo from “Shocking – The Art & Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli” via

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Photo from “Shocking – The Art & Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli” via

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Photo from “Shocking – The Art & Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli” via

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Photo from “Shocking – The Art & Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli” via

Schiaparelli by André Durst (1936)

André Durst was a French photographer and heir to Marseilles soap. A close friend of the Noailles and the sponsor of Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli, the French photographer caught the eye of Vogue and soon proposed his exquisite and original images to the magazine. His work caught the attention of Condé Nast, who signed him as a Vogue photographer. He eventually became French Vogue’s primary photographer.

His mentor was photographer George Hoyningen-Huené.

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André Durst, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1936 via

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André Durst, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1936 via

Schiaparelli’s Perfume, Salut, by Ilse Bing (1934)

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Study for the lily-scented perfume ‘Salut de Schiaparelli’ by Ilse Bing (1934)

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Advertising shot for the lily-scented perfume ‘Salut de Schiaparelli’ by Ilse Bing (1934)

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Daisy Fellowes – Society Queen & Fashion Icon

Daisy Fellowes, the Hon. Mrs. Reginald Fellowes (née Marguerite Séverine Philippine Decazes de Glücksberg, (1890-1962)), was a Singer Sewing Machine heiress who, gifted with both wealth and beauty, became a celebrated 20th-century society figure. Fellowes was one of the most daring fashion plates of the 20th century, arguably the most important patron of the surrealist couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and a friend of the jeweller Suzanne Belperron. Her fashion icon status made her the Paris Editor of American Harper’s Bazaar. 

She married twice. Her first husband either died of influenza or comitted suicide – as a result of his homosexuality having been exposed.

Her second husbond was the Hon. Reginald Ailwyn Fellowes (1884–1953). He was a banker cousin of Winston Churchill and the son of William Fellowes, 2nd Baron de Ramsey. They had one child.

Daisy Fellowes was also a minor novelist and poet. She was notorious for her blunt observations and few escaped her notice or her acidic tongue. Of her first children, she once said, “The eldest, Emmeline, is like my first husband only a great deal more masculine; the second, Isabelle, is like me without guts; [and] the third, Jacqueline, was the result of a horrible man called Lischmann ….”

Daisy Fellowes by Man Ray 1926

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Daisy Fellowes by John Singer Sargent 1910’s

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Daisy Fellowes, wearing Schiaparelli in 1933

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Daisy Fellowes wearing Schiaparelli

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Elsa Schiaparelli – Mad & Original Fashion designer

Elsa Schiaparelli couldn’t sew and she didn’t sketch, yet she stormed Paris fashion in the 1920s and 1930s.  Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, she is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in fashion between the two World Wars. While her contemporaries Chanel and Vionnet set the period’s standards of taste and beauty in fashion design, Schiaparelli flouted convention in the pursuit of a more idiosyncratic style. Her designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists and she Invented the power shoulders, the wedge shoes, the jumpsuit, and the color shocking pink and inspired a generation of unconventional couturiers.

Madder and more original than most of her contemporaries, Mme Schiaparelli is the one to whom the word ‘genius’ is applied most often.

Time magazine wrote of its cover subject in 1934. Of her contemporaries she described Chanel as “that milliner”, while Chanel once dismissed her rival as ‘that Italian artist who makes clothes”.

She came from a privileged background and was born at the Palazzo Corsini in Rome in 1890. Her mother, Maria-Luisa, was a Neapolitan aristocrat, and her father, Celestino Schiaparelli, was a renowned scholar and curator of medieval manuscripts. Her father was Dean of the University of Rome and an authority on Sanskrit. She was a niece of astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who discovered the so-called canali of Mars, and she spent hours with him studying the heavens. She studied philosophy at the University of Rome, during which she published a book of sensual poems that shocked her conservative family. Schiaparelli was sent to a convent until she went on hunger strike and at the age of 22 accepted a job in London as a nanny. Elsa led a refined life with a certain amount of luxury provided by her parents’ wealth and high social status. She believed, however, that this luxury was stifling to her art and creativity and so she removed herself from the “lap of luxury” as quickly as possible. Schiaparelli moved first to New York City and then to Paris, combining her love of art and design to become a couturier

Elsa Schiaparelli, by Cecil Beaton, 1930s - NPG x40358 - © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's London

Elsa Schiaparelli by Cecil Beaton 1930s

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Interior designer Elsie de Wolfe wearing a Schiaparelli sequined cape

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1938 – Marlene Dietrich wearing a Schiaparelli-designed hat.

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Sciaparelli  Hat

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Model and store mannequin at Elsa Schiaparelli’s store, photo by Regina Relang, Paris, 1951

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