Thursday, July 15, 2010

Savoir Feud

For all the glamour and savoir faire of the 1930’s, we are all aware of the rivalry and so called feud that existed between Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel. Unfortunately it always seems to be the case that the less creative and more sedate one should come out on top. While The House of Chanel has been prominent and survives, the House of Schiaparelli ceased to exist, and rumours abound of a re-launch. Same can be said of the animosity that existed between cosmetic queens Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. Mention Helena Rubinstein to the public and you are met with blank stares.

The rivalry between Schiaparelli, as I believe it to be is the difference between wealth and privilege and humble beginnings. It is also the collision of the avant garde and unobtrusive safe elegance.

But in 1934, Time magazine placed Chanel in the second division of fashion, whereas Schiaparelli was one of "a handful of houses now at or near the peak of their power as arbiters of the ultra-modern haute couture....Madder and more original than most of her contemporaries, Mme Schiaparelli is the one to whom the word "genius" is applied most often".

Poor old Coco whether she was insecure about her own success compared to Schiaparelli’s or just plain bitter, referred to Schiaparelli as 'that Italian artist who makes clothes', however Schiaparelli with even more venom referred to Chanel as “that milliner”. Moving in the same social circles didn’t help matters either as I am sure there were constant comparisons being shunted about from cocktail party to dinners.

Once while attending a soirée Chanel and Schiaparelli were persuaded to dance together, with Chanel attempting arson by ‘accidently” shunting Schiaparelli into a candle arrangement setting her frock on fire!

It seems that Chanel had the last laugh, (something I sure she is gloating over in her grave), however with rumours of a Schiaparelli re-launch abounding, maybe “that Italian artist’ will have the last one!


  1. If the worst I was ever called was "that milliner", I would not be living life to my fullest!

    Great post...I love your history lessons...always full of vim and vigor and a bit of venom here and there!

  2. Love your blog. I've listed it on my links page at
    I'm a Brit living in Australia. Same age as you, similar interests it seems. Never been to Canada though.

    Chanel seemed to have many rivals. Haven't seen Chanel and Stravinsky yet, must do that soon.

  3. Jill, LOL. Glad you enjoy the "lessons"


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