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Schiaparelli’s surrealist influences explored at Salvador Dalí museum

October 26, 2017

Elsa Schiaparelli with Salvador Dalí. Image credit: Schiaparelli


The creative relationship between French couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and surrealist Salvador Dalí is the subject of a new exhibition at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL.

Opened Oct. 18, the “Dalí & Schiaparelli” exhibition will be the first dedicated to the creative relationship and works of Ms. Schiaparelli and Mr. Dalí, who were close friends and collaborators. Presented in collaboration with The Dalí Museum and Schiaparelli Paris, the exhibition will feature haute couture gowns and accessories, paintings, drawings and other objects by the avant-garde couturier and artist.

A surreal duo
Ms. Schiaparelli and Mr. Dalí were frequent collaborators, both exploring surrealistic themes in their respective works.

As a designer, Ms. Schiaparelli is regarded as one of the most prominent fashion figures between the two World Wars. Ms. Schiaparelli’s designs intentionally subverted traditional notions of femininity and beauty through an embrace of exaggeration.

Influenced by surrealism, including the art of her friend Mr. Dalí, Ms. Schiaparelli used vibrant colors and experimented with fabrics and handmade decorations. As such, her design aesthetic set her apart from her peers in the 1920s and ‘30s.

The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL was designed by Yann Weymouth. Image credit: The Dalí Museum

Notable clients of Ms. Schiaparelli included the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson and actresses Mae West and Marlene Dietrich.

For the Dalí & Schiaparelli exhibit, The Dalí Museum will display haute couture gowns, accessories, jewelry, paintings, drawings, objects and photos to explore the parallels and relationship of the two talents.

Current Schiaparelli designer Bertrand Guyon will contribute new designs from the maison.

Organized by The Dalí Museum in collaboration with Schiaparelli, Paris, the exhibit is made possible via loans from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and others.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog and essays penned by Dilys Blum, curator of costume and textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, William Jeffett, curator of exhibitions and Hank Hine, museum director at The Dalí Museum and exhibition consultant John William Barger III.

Dalí & Schiaparelli will be on view through Jan. 14, 2018.

Earlier this year, Schiaparelli had its official haute couture label reinstated by the French Ministry of Industry and the French Couture Federation.

The house, which also celebrates it 90th anniversary this year, lost its title in 1954 when Ms. Schiaparelli shuttered her atelier to pen her biography, "Shocking Life."

In a statement, the brand said, "Today Schiaparelli's unique spirit of haute couture merging art, innovation, craftsmanship, quality and audacity enters a new chapter of its story” (see story).