collection SC.378 - Shocking de Schiaparelli cosmetic products, circa 1940

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Reference code



Shocking de Schiaparelli cosmetic products, circa 1940


  • 1940-1949 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

3 items

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in Italy in 1890 into a family of bureaucrats and scholars, Elsa Schiaparelli fled Rome to avoid her family's pressure to marry a Russian aristocrat at age 23. The following year she would impulsively marry a spiritualist philosopher within days of their meeting, eventually moving to the United States where her only daughter "Gogo" was born in 1920. Schaiparelli divorced and returned to Europe, settling in Paris in 1922. On the crossing ocean voyage, Schiaparelli developed a friendship with Gabrielle Picabia, wife of the Dada painter Francis Picabia, which would lead to decades long friendships and collaborations with artists working in the Dada and surrealist movements, including Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. At the encouragement of Paul Poiret, Schiaparelli began freelancing as a fashion designer and in 1927, she opened a small fashion atelier, initially focusing on knitwear. Within five years the house of Sciaparelli was a full-fledged couture house with more than 400 employees on the payroll. She was renowned for her unique brand of "hard chic" which also frequently incorporated witty and whimsical imagery. Her collections were often thematic, and she was well known for her prints, hand-embroidery and exquisite sequin work, both executed by Lesage. The house of Schiparelli remained open during the German occupation under the direction of Irene Dana, while Schiaparelli herself took refuge in the United States, volunteering as a nurse at Belleview Hospital in New York City. Anxious to return to France at the end of the war, news reports note that Schiaparelli was one of the first designers in exile to return to Paris, where she reassumed the directorship of her house, which remained open until December 1954. After this time, many products bearing the Schiaparelli label, such as sweaters and millinery continued to be produced under licensing agreements.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer


Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection contains two Shocking de Schiaparelli perfume bottles in their original packing and one example of the packaging for Schiaparelli lipstick.

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access is open to researchers by appointment at the Fashion Institute of Technology Library, Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives.

Conditions governing reproduction

The Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives does not own copyright for all material held in its physical custody. It is the researcher's obligation to abide by and satisfy copyright law ( when copying or using materials (including digital materials) found in or made available from the department. When possible, the department will inform a researcher about the copyright status of material, the researcher's obligations with regard to such material, and, wherever possible, the owner or owners of the copyrights. Any and all reproduction of originals is at the archivist's discretion.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

  • Latin

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Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The Library of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives, 27th St. at 7th Ave., NY, NY, USA, 10001

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Finding Aid created August 10, 2017.


  • English



    Archivist's note

    Arrangement, description, and/or archival processing by April Calahan, FIT, NY, NY, USA.

    Accession area