Elsa Schiaparelli- Surrealism Meets Haute Couture


oday for something completely different, we have this interesting short video from the V&A Museum about some of the styles of Elsa Schiaparelli. While far removed from the 19th Century world of haute couture in terms of style, her technique was as technically detailed and exacting as any you will see in the world of haute couture. Schiaparelli has always been of interest to us because she combined a wild side of fantastical, sometimes surreal, designs with a practical designs. Her collaborations with Salvador Dali are amazing although sometimes jarring.  Also, often overlooked, is her use of colors and texture in many of her designs. At the same time, many of her daywear designs were severely tailored- her design aesthetic was seemingly a collection of opposites. Anyway, please have a look: 🙂

We have seen many of the items pictured in the video in person and they’re just as compelling “live” as they are in the video. Also, just to show that style elements are constantly being recycled in fashion, here’s a dress from her Summer 1939 collection that harkens back to the late 19th Century with the use of training/bustling:

Costume College 2019

It’s Sunday and all my teaching duties at Costume College 2019 are complete! It’s been a busy past two days with teaching three classes and meeting up with old friends, some who we haven’t seen in a year or more. Our classes were well attended and hopefully we were able to impart some useful information. More importantly, we also learned some new things from the many thoughtful questions posed by our students and in some areas, we’re rethinking some of our opinions. The old adage “never say never” has never been more true when applied to fashion and fashion history and it seems that just when we thought we’d gotten a handle on a certain subject, something comes along to challenge us.

We’re looking forward to 2020 at Costume College and it’s our goal to work up more classes with compelling content. Looking forward to seeing you there next year!

Costume College 2019

It’s official! I’m pleased to announce that I will be once again teaching at Costume College for 2019. Held annually in late July, Costume College is an event devoted to costuming in its many forms, whether historical, fantasy, or somewhere in between. Classes and presentations consist of both lecture and hands-on workshop formats and are all taught by volunteers. For the past several years, I’ve been giving presentations on various aspects of costume to include American Army uniforms of the WWI Era, Paul Poiret, and Couture of the 19th and early 20th Century.

This year I will be reprising my Paul Poiret presentation (revised and expanded) as well as presentations on designers Charles Frederick Worth and Elsa Schiaparelli. When I presented the class on Schiaparelli last year, it was definitely outside our comfort zone but in it was well received and one of the attendees had even recreated Schiaparelli’s iconic Lobster Dress 🙂 :

One of the fundamentals of our design philosophy is that here at Lily Absinthe, we are interested in all eras of fashion and as such, we draw inspiration for all eras when it fits the particular design objective we may have in mind and especially when it comes to designers who came after the Belle Epoch.

Image result for dali schiaparelli

Schiaparelli in particular has always been a source of fascination for both Karin and I in that she combined the shocking and outrageous with the practical and down-to-earth ranging from surrealist-inspired shoe-hats and immaculately tailored suits and elegant evening dresses. Moreover, we’re fans of her widespread use of pink- she even has a distinct shade of pink she named “shocking pink.” 🙂

Image result for shocking pink schiaparelli

July is a ways away but I’ll be busily preparing my presentations and it promises to be an exciting time. More to follow! 🙂