- 1940-1949 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
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.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
This collection contains two Schocking de Schiaparelli perfume bottles in their original packing and one example of the packaging for Schiaparelli lipstick.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
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 (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#108) 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.
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Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
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
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Place access points
Name access points
- Schiaparelli, Elsa, 1890-1973 (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
AAT; ANSI; DACS; DCMI; ISAD(G); ISO; LoC; NISO; etc.
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Finding Aid created August 10, 2017.
Arrangement, description, and/or archival processing by April Calahan, FIT, NY, NY, USA.