You may not yet have heard of the name Elsa Schiaparelli but to fashion insiders she is a legend of demi-godess status. Forty years after her death, the late, great Schiaparelli is about to have her legacy resuscitated as Diego Della Valle, the CEO of Tod’s SpA - which owns Tod’s and Hogan has announced that he will be re-launching the brand later this year. Currently the subject of the hottest exhibition in town - Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art - and the reason for the Met Ball, Schiap, as she was known to her friends, is having a new moment in the sun.
So what’s so special about this Italian fashion maverick and why does her legacy have anything to say to us today? For one thing, without Schiap we wouldn’t have the FROW. Hosting the first ever show with music and art, Schiap invented the catwalk. What’s more she also favoured the use of elongated, shapeless women as models – plus ca change. She has also been credited with devising the wedge shoe, culottes and the fashion turban.
Elsa Schiaparelli shoe hat, collaboration with Dali
But what she is most revered for is her mad and always fabulous surreal take on style. No Schiap, means no Isabella Blow or ADR and definitely no Hunger Games Capitol style which borrowed heavily from her archive. The godmother of surreal fashion, Schiap often collaborated with her artist mates like Man Ray, Dali and Jean Cocteau to create museum worthy, iconic pieces like the ‘Shoe Hat’ and the ‘Lobster Dress’.
Elsa Schiaparelli's skelton dress and lobster dress
Now the golden question is who will take up the reigns at Schiaparelli 2.0? Whispers have already begun circulating with disgraced former Dior designer John Galliano an insider favourite for the gig while Maniish Arora who has just parted ways with Paco Rabanne could be another contender. Stefano Pilati is another man without a fashion home, but whether his sleek style could get a bit whacky is somewhat doubtful while the Rodarte sisters have been touted from several camps.
What we do know is that Farida Khelfa, a fixture on the Paris fashion and social scenes, known for being a muse to Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Paul Gaultier in the 80’s will be an official spokeswoman for the new label and acccording to the press release “the new Schiaparelli universe [will be] made up of very special collections representing her style well, with [a] strong focus on accessories, for which Schiaparelli was the creator and protagonist.” The range of products, which will include “high quality fragrances and cosmetics,” will be available in February 2013.
Left, Elsa Schiaparelli Tear Dress
Poignantly the label will be based at the original location where Schiap’s first atelier was located at 21, Place Vendome. While we probably won’t hear of any appointments until September the atelier will be opening its doors this July. For collectors and admires alike this is the news they have been waiting decades to hear – the Schiap is back.