All eyes on Schiaparelli at Paris Fashion Week

ORIGINAL: Elsa Schiaparelli created many surrealist fashion pieces in her time. She worked with artist Jean Cocteau to create this jacket in 1937.


    Jan 15, 2014

    All eyes on Schiaparelli at Paris Fashion Week


    MORE than 40 years after the death of its founder, Italy's legendary Schiaparelli house makes its eagerly awaited comeback at Paris Fashion Week, which kicks off today.

    Elsa Schiaparelli, who died in 1973, was among fashion's most prominent figures between the two world wars and became Coco Chanel's biggest rival.

    A close friend of Salvador Dali, who famously painted the lobster on her 1937 Lobster Dress, she created many surrealist fashion pieces, such as the shoe hat, but her label closed down in 1954.

    In 2007, Mr Diego Della Valle, head of Italian leather-goods company Tod's, bought the house. But it was not until last autumn that a creative director was appointed - Italian designer Marco Zanini.

    Hence, the Schiaparelli show on Monday is the most eagerly awaited event of the Paris Fashion Week.

    Will Zanini reserve pride of place for Schiaparelli's signature shocking pink? Will her eccentric hats and lobster or skeleton dresses be part of the mix?

    In July, Schiaparelli had already been given a hero's welcome by Christian Lacroix, who celebrated the comeback in Paris with a special collection reinterpreting many of the late designer's influences, from fairgrounds and circuses to military uniforms and saris.

    In one circus-inspired piece, a pleated symmetric bustier and oversized skirt were teamed with an embroidered clown's hat.

    The dress required 40m of silk and 350 hours' work.

    While Schiaparelli's comeback is expected to be the highlight of the Fashion Week, other events are also highly anticipated.

    Hussein Chalayan, the British designer of Cypriot origin, will showcase his collection for Vionnet, the fashion house created in 1912 by Madeleine Vionnet.

    French designer Bouchra Jarrar will also be a highlight. After 20 years working for Balenciaga and Christian Lacroix, she founded her own house in January 2010 and has just been awarded the "haute couture" appellation.

    Mr Didier Grumbach, head of the French Couture Federation, said the sector had changed but was doing well. "Today, people don't only wear couture. A woman will wear pret-a-porter and, for a special occasion, will wear couture."

    "But there are more and more rich women in the world, so there are more clients than at the time of Saint Laurent," he said.

    The haute-couture section of the Fashion Week kicks off on Sunday.