Elsa Schiaparelli testing out hats on the model’s head. Photo by Nina Leen, February 1951.
In the annals of fashion history there are few who rival Elsa Schiaparelli as she was an original on so many levels. As you find out, she was in fierce competition with her rival Coco but one must deduce that this rivalry drove them to fashion greatness despite their differences in philosophy and output.
In the present tense or more recent history, Schiap was ignominiously paired with Ms. Prada who you will find out turns out to be a thorn in the side of Mme. S. and she makes no bones about it.
Don’t you wonder what these fashion legends might have to say if they were still alive and interviewed? Well, here you get to read a personal and impossible conversation between me and Schiap, the queen of SHOCKING!!!
Jeffrey Felner: What do you think of the present state of fashion?
"Elsa Schiaparelli": I think that there are too many designers with no talent other than being copyists. There is so little that is original while there is beaucoup that has been “borrowed” and rehashed and just look at what Zanini has done and under my name!!!....pfffft!! As you can see from history, even one of the brightest stars, “moi”... can be forgotten in the passage of time. I am sorry that I was not able to perpetuate my legacy like that bitch Coco or have the support like that wench Miuccia who talks and thinks too much and designs so little!
What do you think of the celebrity/model idea?
There is no question that even when I was at my peak, the idea of celebrities wearing my creations was what catapulted me into the spot light. Daisy Fellowes, Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Windsor, Millicent Rogers and so many more helped me be a star and made me famous among the women who would wear my creations.
What was your crowning achievement?
I am flattered to have been able to partner with some of the greatest creative talents of the 20th century and that my work as a couturier was taken seriously and accepted by so many. I am even happier to say that I was an original… this is a concept that seems to be forgotten in the present world of fashion. I should have been smarter to enable myself to have never been forgotten. I would have wanted to make sure that designers who paid homage to me were forced to acknowledge my inventions and talents. I wish I had been able to do a full ready to wear collection that reached the international masses and not just the world of haute couture that only reached the financially blessed.
With who would you like to split a bottle of champagne? Name one or more.
Oui, I would love to have known Alber and Christian and Yves but now I have Diana and Yves ici but I always try to avoid that salope Coco...merde! I would want to thank Lacroix for the collection that he did in my name as it was just sublime and had some much of me and yet he did not copy me... he absorbed my soul!
What is the quality you most admire in others?
Originality, creativity, being outspoken and most of all being clear about what you say and feel not like this Prada woman who talks in circles and thinks she is so smart … she is lucky, not smart!! And oh yes, giving credit to those that have inspired me and not saying that “oh no, this is my version or interpretation” pffft!!
Do you think fashion/celebrity is taken too seriously?
Unlike that messy self-important signora (femmebâclée), I feel that fashion is an art form so yes I think that fashion should be taken very seriously. There are so few designers who continue in the art of haute couture so they should be treated with great respect as they are the ones who try to take fashion to a new level of artistry and workmanship. Comme je l’ai dit, fashion and celebrities that wear your clothes are a necessary evil of the profession but in your contemporary world their fame can overshadow the designer which is very sad.
How would you like to come back in a second life?
I wish I could be me again, but in the 21st century with so many artists and so much technology available. I would be in heaven to be able to collaborate and utilize all these new ideas and talents. I would be a much bigger star today and I would show them all how it is done! … peut etre there would be a “karl” who would allow me to live on and on.