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Shocking! The surreal worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli

Until January 22, 2023, the MAD honors “the audacious work of Elsa Schiaparelli, whose inspiration was nourished by a privileged relationship with the artists of the Parisian avant-garde milieu of the 1920s and 1930s. Nearly 20 years after the retrospective devoted to him in 2004, the museum wished to revisit his work in order to make the public rediscover his innovative fantasy, his taste for spectacle and his artistic modernity.

She was Coco Chanel’s best enemy and the best friend of the most prominent artists of her generation, although she operated in a discipline that was still foreign to the art world at the time: fashion. We do not wonder why and the exhibition “Shocking! The surrealist worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli” at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris reminds us of this. The vision of the Italian-born fashion designer, Parisian by adoption, of a fashion more conceptual and artistic than practical and functional, places Elsa Schiaparelli decidedly apart from her peers who dressed women. With her playful and offbeat dresses, she sublimated them, allowing them to say of themselves what no other designer would allow: “I am free”.

An exhibition between tribute and heritage


The exhibition brings together 520 works including 272 costumes and fashion accessories, “The exhibition is presented with 248 paintings, sculptures, jewelry, perfume bottles, ceramics, posters and photographs signed by the greatest names of the time, photographers, painters, writers or poets, from Man Ray to Salvador Dalí, from Jean Cocteau to Meret Oppenheim or Elsa Triolet..

This major retrospective also highlights the legacy of Schiaparelli’s style with silhouettes interpreted by famous designers paying tribute to him, such as Yves Saint Laurent or Azzedine Alaïa. Daniel Roseberry, artistic director of the house of Schiaparelli since 2019, interprets this legacy in a spirit as whimsical as Elsa herself was. The exhibition meanders through the Christine & Stephen A. Schwarzman fashion galleries of the MAD in a poetic and immersive scenography entrusted to Nathalie Crinière. Schwarzman Fashion Galleries in a poetic and immersive scenography by Nathalie Crinière.

Isabelle Manzoni