Whilst looking through historical fashion figures, I obviously came across they well known names such as Chanel but I wanted to explore people that I haven’t already before. I found an interesting designer named Elsa Schiaparelli.

Elsa Schiaparelli

She was born in Rome, Italy in 1890. Unlike the other designers I’ve researched Schiaparelli was born into aristocracy. Her Uncle interestingly was the discoverer of canals on Mars. Much to the dislike of her parents, from a young age Schiaparelli showed that she was a driven individual.

She studied Philosophy at Rome University and then went on to write poetry which was not to her parents taste so they sent her to a convent. She escaped this by going on a hunger strike and once she was free, she travelled to London and worked as a Nanny.

After marrying her former teacher, Schiaparelli & her husband moved to New York. This was a place that greatly inspired the Italian designer and she began working in a boutique where she specialised in French fashions. Her talents & interest progressed quickly and she started creating her own designs.

She moved back to Paris to continue her work and in 1927 opened her own business. Her debut collection caught the eyes of the fashion world and so the attention of French Vogue. She had a balance between artwork and clothes making which in itself is a different approach to couture as they essentially are works of art!

She designed a range of fashions from swimwear to evening wear and was often seen in famous circles. Her work was even used in theatre and films, thus increasing her famous connections.

In 1951, she discontinued her couture business and then three years later closed her design house. She continued to work in fashion and after her death in 1973, she is still considered a giant within the industry today.


I’ve learnt that by travelling to other countries and seeing other cultures, it can prove to be an inspiring design method. Schiaparelli found her passion for clothing at a time when she was far from home. Today the industry is on such a global scale that I think travelling would be an essential part of learning & growing as a practitioner. This has also been helpful for my research into social & pop culture for my essay.


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