Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Skeleton Power

So yesterday we took off with women's fashion starting from the 1930's, and we studied Chanel's boyish look, Vionnet's cut, 'La ligne corolle' - or New Look as it was called by the US press- by Dior and one of my favorites couturiers, Balenciaga. But the one that stroke me the most was Elsa Schiaparelli. I had heard about this Italian designer before through literature. I knew that she was a fierce competitor of Chanel during the interbellum, and that she shut down her shop after the second World War since fashion had changed tremendously in that period of time and she could not recover. Thanks to my Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion I also knew that she was greatly influenced by surrealism.

But I had never seen the Skeleton Dress she created in 1938 with the help of Salvador Dali. Padded ribs, and spine-like elements in this tight black dress form a skeleton on its surface, as if it were the bones of the wearer. I now understand why Schiaparelli was so ahead of her time. Until now, we mostly had seen corsets, crinolines or empire dresses. And then she comes along with such innovative ideas and she did not even have training as a seamstress.

The moment that incredible dress popped up on screen, I saw Alexander McQueen. He like no other is capable of taking something that in many cultures is seen as macabre, and turn it into something beautiful. For instance the skulls on many of his designs or in this Crystal Skeleton Print dress (SS 09).

I am certain that if I travelled more often, I would have bought the Alexander McQueen for Samsonite-suitcases with the skeleton relief in a heartbeat. My dad offered to buy me a set last summer when I was planning my NYC-trip, but those bag throwers at the airport are too energetic and no doubt that the suitcases would not survive the trip. Maybe I'll just get myself a beauty case. I know a place in our little town where they still sell them... Until then, I'll just focus on McQueen's wonderful garments.

P.S.: Oh and this trompe l'oeil-sweater of Schiaparelli reminded me of Sonia Rykiel-knitwear.


Sonia Rykiel

Update: more Schiaparelli-news.

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