Elsa Schiaparelli was born in Rome in 1890 and from her early years she tended to ignore the usual and conventional. Her interest in fashion revealed itself from an early age. One night, when she was attending a ball she made a dress for herself by winding some fabric around herself; if it hadn’t unraveled she might’ve created her own trend.
Elsa married when she was only 18 to William de Wendt de Kerlor, a theosophist that abandoned her after the birth of their daughter. It was a shocking outcome, moreover it was the 1920’s, conservative times where abandonment of this kind was unacceptable. However, young Elsa did not sit around and waste time in feeling sorry. She put herself together and designed her first signature item, a black knitted sweater with an embellishment in the form of a bow tie. Soon after she created the design she started selling with the help of her team of American knitters.
Schiaparelli opened her first salon in 1927. She called it Stupidir de Sport and soon after produced a divided skirt that became both a shock and a huge hit in sport fashion and was worn by tennis player Lili de Alvarez in 1931. Not only this, but she also successfully introduced shorts to tennis, which further proved her to be one of the most innovative and brave new designers. There were little designers that could compete with her at the time.
Elsa did not seize to shock the fashion audience, after introducing the divided skirt and shorts she invented a new color. They called it ‘shocking’ pink. Her passion for colorful designs and her partnership with Salvador Dali brought a lot of new and fresh designs to high fashion.
Not only did Elsa manage to shock with her innovations in sportswear and color choices. Her less outrageous designs became classic. The use of shoulder pads for example were a huge influence, the zippers that she colored in the same color as the fabric were also her idea. Many people do not know this, but she was also the one to use animal prints.
Because of her wide range of interests Elsa soon saw that designing clothes was not enough for her and she branched into jewelry.
Elsa died in 1973 and was buried in her favorite shocking pink robe. She was 83 and fashions grand dame.