Friday, March 27, 2009

Schiaparelli at Home - Shocking Elegance

Elsa Schiaparelli, the reigning empress of Paris fashion between the two world wars, and I say empress because she ruled autocratically dictating her style onto her clients without so much as an apology. Her style was distinct and constantly changing whereas her chief rival Chanel’s was evolving and turning into something comfortable and almost bourgeoisie.

Schiaparelli loved to shock and she was shocking, which translated into all she did, she invented shocking pink, named her premier perfume ‘Shocking” and her auto-biography was called ‘Shocking Life’.

Schiaparelli’s life at home in her favourite house, a mansion on the Rue Berri in Paris, reflected a fertile imagination that was not afraid to try different things, for the pure enjoyment that they would bring. Stuff was everywhere, tables scattered with various objects ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. A lamp with as its base a sculpture of a young woman, gilt goblets, and what looks to be a gold or silver slingshot. A bizarre object of a sphere on a stand with holes through it and spikes on top almost looks like some obscure instrument of torture.

In the entrance hall stood two mammoth carved wood statues representing Mr. and Mrs. Satan standing guard screening whoever dared to cross the threshold.

She enjoyed her Paris mansion dressing accordingly at home so that she was almost a part of the tableau she was presenting in each room.

The only way one could tell her bathroom was actually a bathroom was by the bath. The rest of the room gave the impression of an overly crowded sitting room with stuff everywhere. A writing desk in one corner, a sofa in the centre, you could almost entertain guests in this room and I am sure the thought had crossed her mind.

The garden on the other hand was deceptively simple, laid out traditionally and yet here it was that she did some of her most lavish entertaining, holding soirées that would rival Poiret’s of a quarter of a century before.

She had other homes around the world, London, New York and Tunisia and I will explore these at a later date.


  1. She was a fascinating creature, all right. I'd LOVE to have one of her vintage men's colognes, packaged in a glass flacon in the shape of a pipe!

  2. Hey, I aggree! I have seen them sometines on ebay. I do have a bottle from the seventies which I do use occassionally, just love it!

  3. I found one, which had a DROP of cologne still in it, going for around $150. Relatively speaking, it was probably a bargain, but still...

  4. Not good! Last year found an almost full bottle 1.5oz on ebay for about $70. Cologne was still fresh, although wasnt in the pipe bottle.


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