I admire Elsa Schiaparelli, but my idea for this entry didn’t form until I decided to include other huge design passions of mine, Japan and school clothes. Hence, I made a Schiaparelli outfit by way of a Meiji era (1868-1912) schoolgirl.
Common elements of feminine Meiji clothing were a blend of Western and traditional influences, and wide embroidered collars. Schoolgirls commonly wore their kimonos topped with hakama skirts. White underlayers were also popular. I expressed these ideas here with a white wrap front dress with a coordinating collar, plus a hakama. In another nod to Eastern aesthetics, I made the embellishments on the dress and bolero asymmetrical.
Schiap’s touches appear most prominently in the eye-burning shade of pink I chose. She dearly enjoyed the color “shocking pink,” so how could I not use it? I drew part of the idea of the high-waisted dress and natural embroidery designs from her “Pagan” collection, the pink bolero with black trim and a black skirt from an outfit she made for Millicent Rogers, and part of the lines of the bolero trim from a jacket in her Winter 1938-39 collection. As many of Schiaparelli’s designs focused on the body from the waist up, I followed suit.
The hat contains several nods to the Schiap, including a relatively small size, an unusual button and a butterfly motif. Unusual buttons were another signature of hers, and she was fond of using butterflies, which to her were a show of beauty emerging from the ordinary. On top of this, many of the hats she made on the 1930s were often tiny, often requiring ties or other devices to hold them up. The one I created doesn’t need this sort of assistance, but I made sure to have its shape as streamlined as possible.
In homage to her penchant for using unusual materials, I tried to go unconventional with the fabric I chose, via recycled materials. The underdress for example, came from a pillowcase. The slip came from a human sized petticoat I started but abandoned, and the bolero cloth was part of an old jacket of mine.
To help with the hang of the outfit, I made a 1930s style long slip in a princess line.
The slip and hakama were drafted, while the bodices for the underdress and bolero were drafted. The initial pattern for the hat came from a 1930 doll pattern, which I enlarged, shortened, and streamlined to better fit my model.