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A Date with Schiaparelli

For many years, Schiaparelli has been one of my favourite all time designers so when I heard there was to be a retrospective of her beautiful work in Paris at the Musee Des Arts Decoritifs, I knew I had to go!

I wouldn't be exaggerating when I say that the exhibition ~ seeing all the clothes that I have seen in books and read about was one of the highlights of my life. I thought I'd share a few of my favourite moments from the exhibition with you in my journal this week

The Phoebus Cape from the 1938/39 Winter Collection, in signature Shocking pink with sublime embroidery by the legendary House of Lesage greets you in the first room which is also covered from ceiling to floor in illustrations from Schiaparelli's collections. It was like walking into Heaven!

A wall of gloves ~ all works of art in themselves in the most beautiful hues! I especially loved these pink satin leg of mutton confections!

Schiaparelli's accessories were just as much opportunities to play with Surrealist ideas and motifs as her garments were ~ Just look at that hat on the left! It actually works as storage too! How wonderful! I'm especially in love with the black heart looking style in the top centre.

Over at Tara's School of Dressmaking on Patreon, I've been focusing on Schiaparelli and my Tea with Tara talk this month was all about why I love her and the many reasons why she is so brilliant. I looked at this evening ensemble, with a decorative design by Jean Cocteau from 1937 in the talk so it was incredible to see it in real life. I could see all the seams and technical details so will be recreating this design at some point in the not too distant future!

The exhibition had so many of the original Lesage decorative samples, they made my heart skip a beat!

One of the things the exhibition did so well was to display the garments and supporting elements in a really clear way so that although there was a lot to see, you never felt overwhelmed and the beautiful pieces on display were never overshadowed by overly theatrical presentation. You were able to get a real sense and feel for each piece which for me was beyond incredible.

It was lovely to see pieces I knew but also be introduced to new things, like this Lesage embroidered velvet square jacket and matching skirt from Spring 1950.

I was thrilled to see some of my most loved pieces in the flesh so to speak and this pink and black striped and bejewelled evening jacket from 1947 took my breath away! The construction of this is just glorious and it's on my 'Attempt to Pattern Cut' list.

Oh to have a time machine and be able to go back and buy a whole Schiaparelli wardrobe!

I love everything about this jacket and what a joy to have seen it!

Another favourite Schiaparelli design was this shocking pink and black panelled silk satin evening dress with frills on the front and these amazing pleated and puffed sleeves. I never realised they were constructed like this and that's why seeing original garments is such a valuable experience. This joyous dress was from the Winter collection 1938/39 and is, I think, Perfection!

I think one of the incredibly clever things that Schiaparelli achieved with her fashion was to create such innovative pieces, full of fun, wit and magic but to still make them so elegant and wearable. Although there were so many conceptual ideas within the design, the wearer would always shine when wearing a Schiaparelli piece.

The final room was dedicated to the Couture house now, under the direction of Daniel Roseberry who I'd been a little ambivalent about {I talk about this in great detail over on Patreon} but I did love the photo's of current couture pieces taken by Tim Walker, another of my favourite creatives working in the world of fashion today.

If I could, I'd hop straight back on to the Eurostar and revisit the exhibition as many times as I possibly could. Sadly, I will just have to make do with just the one incredible visit and take forward all that I saw and learned on my own creative journey with Project Schiaparelli!

Tara x

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