Thursday, June 5, 2014

History's Runway: The Schiaparelli Circus Jacket, 1938

Elsa Schiaparelli, 1938
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Four acrobats leap across the front of this jacket.  Well, okay, they’re buttons, but they’re shaped like acrobats.   This bright pink fitted jacket  is the work of the renowned Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973). The silk twill comes alive with a repeating pattern of rearing horses in two shades of blue--their saddles, manes and plumes are picked out in brilliant metallic thread.

The jacket was originally designed to be worn over a dark purple crêpe evening dress with a draped hem as part of Schiaparelli's Circus collection of 1938. The runway show for the collection was described as “the most riotous and swaggering fashion show that Paris had ever seen. It had a million novelty effects, including prancing dogs and horses, grey elephants, spot-lit acrobats, tents and clowns.”

The jacket was one of the collections’ centerpieces and was featured prominently in Schiaparelli’s Nineteenth Album of her work—1938.  

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