The Nearly Forgotten Fashion Pioneer Who Changed the Way Women Dressed

Mention the name Chanel and virtually every woman, and most men immediately have a mental picture of the famous logo, eponymous boutiques, couture fashion and famous Fragrances created several generations ago by the fashion doyen Coco Chanel. Ms. Chanel’s professional and personal life has been well-documented in books and movies. Though she has been deceased for many years the Chanel Brand has been protected, nurtured and managed to ever greater heights and is considered one of the most successful luxury goods franchises in history.

Christian Dior and Coco Chanel alone among their contemporaries from the first half of the 20th century remain household names. There was another creative fashion artist however who was considered by the connoisseurs of that time to have been their superior in talent, vision and success. Her name was Elsa Schiaparelli and for all of her fame and accolades she is largely forgotten today.

Elsa Schiaparelli was born to an aristocratic Roman family in 1890. Her world as a child was full of books, music, the arts and rich, successful people. As a young Philosophy student at the University of Rome she wrote a fairly scandalous book of erotic poems that enraged her conservative family and they shipped her off to a convent where she promptly went on a hunger strike. She left the convent and undertook a lifestyle change by attempting to leave behind the luxury she had always enjoyed and becoming a Bohemian. Her goal was to be an artist and she delved deeply into Surrealism.

After living a simple life devoted to art and study in New York City and London, young Elsa finally moved to Paris. There she was invited to attend a ball but had nothing to wear. She simply bought some fabric and made a type of wrap dress for herself. She became close to Modernist artists Man Roy and Marcel Duchamp. They, along with the most famous French Couturier of the early 20th century, Paul Poiret, encouraged her to start to design clothes.

Ms. Schiaparelli started her first couture house but it quickly failed by 1926. In 1927 she tried again and launched a collection featuring trompe l’oeil images on sweaters that became the rage. She was featured in Vogue. Her business exploded with the introduction of “pour le sport” line including spectacular linen dresses, bathing suits and ski wear. In 1931 she opened the Schiap Shop on the Place Vendome. The same year the tennis player Lili de Alvarez created a sensation when she played Wimbledon wearing Elsa Schiaparelli’s “divided skirt, the forerunner of shorts. The new shop included an Evening Wear department that became famous and added greatly the House success.

Elsa Schiaparelli is credited with many firsts in the fashion world. These include:

Graphic Knitwear
Color Coordinated Zippers
Whimsical Brooch-like Buttons
Culottes
Arab Breeches
Embroidered Shirts
Wrapped Turbans
PomPom Ribbed Hats
Barbaric Belts
Wedge Espadrille Shoes
Mix-and-Match Sportswear
The Runway Show
Androgynous Fashion Models

Her work was heavily influenced by the famous Modernist artists of the day including Dada, Fini, Cocteau, Oppenheim and Giacometti. It was the wild Catalan Surrealist sensation Salvador Dali that would exert the most vivid effects on Elsa Schiaparelli’s work. This effect can be easily seen in her Lamb Cutlet hat and the 1936 suit with pockets simulating a chest of drawers. The famous Lobster Dress, Tear Dress, Shoe Hat and Skeleton Dress were classic pieces that included trend setting fabric, tailoring cues, effects and surrealistic images that made the wearer appear to be dressed in artwork.

The House of Schiaparelli produced garments and accessories that were considered more than Couture Fashion, but unique pieces of wearable art. The House was retained to design costumes for movie productions including Topaze (1933), Moulin Rouge (1952) and for Mae West in Every Day Is a Holiday (1937).

The bodice figure of Mae West is the silhouette that Schiaparelli used to create the flacon for her signature Perfume Shocking. The “Shocking Pink” used to dress the Fragrances unit carton became so famous and distinctive that it is known to this day as “shocking pink” in pantone books. Through the 1930’s and 1940’s the House of Schiaparelli introduced a number of successful Fragrance Collections for men and women.

In 1934 Time Magazine placed Madame Schiaparelli at the top of the fashion world. Of her great rival Coco Chanel Time stated, “Chanel has assembled a fortune estimated at $15 million in the United States while being not at present in the most dominant influence in fashion”. Time went on to note that every little garment house on 7th Avenue was making replica versions of every collection that Elsa Schiaparelli produced.

Chanel was a traditionalist. Owing to the influences of Modern and Surreal art Schiaparelli was an experimentalist. She was the first to experiment with acrylic, rayon jersey, cellophane and a new fiber called Fildifer. This was the first use of synthetics in Couture.

In the 1970’s Diane von Furstenburg burst onto the fashion scene with her iconic wrap dress. Schiaparelli had created the wrap dress 50 years earlier, the same for Issey Miyake’s pleats and wrinkles skirts which she had first designed in the 1930’s.

The introduction of the Runway Fashion Show alone would have cemented Elsa Schiaparelli’s place at the pinnacle of Haute Couture history. The Branding and Marketing Strategies that this pioneer created are still used by leading Fashion Houses to this day. The inclusion of whimsy, anything goes and the co-mingling of a variety of colors, shapes and fabrics in her stunning pieces were revolutionary and have never been matched.

By the end of World War II the fashion scene had changed significantly. The clientele that had made Elsa Schiaparelli rich, famous and a trend setter had changed as well. The world had experienced a terrible trauma. The sort of energy and imagination that was inspired by Modernism and Surrealism was not highly valued. Practical became a cornerstone of Fashion in the 1950’s. The House of Schiaparelli closed in 1954 and Ms. Schiaparelli spent the last 20 years of her life in Paris and her seaside mansion in Tunisia.

Coco Chanel famously despised Elsa Schiaparelli. Ms. Chanel once said that Schiaparelli made art, not clothes. She disparagingly referred to her as that “Italian Artiste”. Elsa Schiaparelli, born to aristocracy and luxury, never took the bait. If she had negative thoughts about her rival they were well hidden.

Any student researching the history of the development of Couture Fashion in the 20th century will recognize the design breakthroughs that were created by Elsa Schiaparelli and are present everywhere in today’s female clothing scene. This creative body of work changed the world of fashion forever. Though largely forgotten today, this pioneer has left an amazing artistic and inventive legacy.

by: Geoff Ficke

Angel Paintings – A Brief History of Symbolism in Angel Art

How can one draw out angelic symbolism in a painting? There is a wide variety of angel paintings out there, from traditional and historical, to modern and sensational, to sweet angel pictures designed for greeting cards and children, to even the strange and slightly sinister! Yet all these types of art share the same subject. And that’s not all; though it varies through different paintings and artists, symbolism can play a significant role in these paintings of beings from tradition and legend. But how can you look beyond aesthetic appearance to read what the symbolism and style is really trying to tell you?

Although many angel paintings can be described as beautiful, there is a lot more going on than aesthetic taste. Everything within the painting, from the color choice, setting, clothing, pose and objects within angel paintings can be drawn from research of individual angels. In the early middle ages, angels were often painted on gold backgrounds. One painting of Gabriel shows her floating in a serene attitude that clearly indicates she is not part of this world. As the artistic style progressed into the Renaissance, the background changed to more realistic scenery. Angels were now connected to nature and the world of man. Fast forward a little farther into the Renaissance, and you see the angel Gabriel still winged and with a halo, but the emphasis on realistic painting so important in this period has a fully shaded angel kneeling on the floor of a building done in one point perspective. In modern times new angel art has emerged.

In the twentieth century soft renditions of women angels with sweet expressions has become the standard, indicating an idyllic heaven where pain is not known. But as art in general in this past century has become diverse, angel art is as well. Fantasy art shows angels in paintings that feel more dramatic in a variety of ways, whether due to strong contrast in shading, action taking place (such as the angels of light and dark at war), or a very emotional scene such as a crying or fallen angel. Surreal art has portrayed angels in a number of ways, from futuristic to dark and even in strange forms that barely resemble winged humans, (although their appearance is true to biblical interpretations, such as Metatron having numerous faces, wings, and eyes).

Again the question, how can one draw out angelic symbolism in a painting? How we perceive angels through culture influences how artists interpret and produce angel paintings. If artistic style continues to become more personal and individual, it can be assumed that angel art will continue to grow more personal in nature as well. You can incorporate not only literal descriptions in art, but legends and things that were associated symbolically with the individual angels. These are just a few examples of how angel paintings and other art are layered with symbolism, and how this artwork has evolved through history.

Learn Photoshop Like A Pro Through Photoshop Tutorials

At the dawn of computer generation, image editing was made more efficient and remarkable by various photo editing software. But when people talk about the world leader in digital image editing, Adobe Photoshop takes center stage.

Photoshop is, above all else, a superior image editing tool, one that will always be remembered best as the software that forever changed the way the world looks. In many ways, Photoshop has become almost indistinguishable from photo or image editing. And as technology advances, it has become one of the most proficient tools in creating web-based images.

For all of their bells and whistles, however, Photoshop still serves best when used with Photoshop tutorials. Many people are familiar with Photoshop but not all of them are fully capable of managing the tricks and tips of the program. Hence, Photoshop tutorials can facilitate the full use of the software for better image editing.

There are so many websites that offer Photoshop tutorials nowadays. The best thing about Photoshop tutorials is that people can access them for free. Hence, they can learn many things about photo editing and other services needed to enhance the images.

When it comes to Photoshop tutorials, there are so many factors to consider in order to get the lessons you need to know. Some may go for the advanced tutorials while others may find basic Photoshop tutorials beneficial. If you really want to learn the basic tips and tricks in Photoshop, you may find these Photoshop tutorials useful:

1. Photographic effects

With the help of digital cameras, photographers nowadays can really make wonders on their images. However, with the help of Photoshop, they can truly create a new perception of the world. Professionals know how to do their thing but ordinary people cannot. Hence, with the help of Photoshop tutorials, they can create different photographic effects in their images the way the experts do.

2. Lighting

With light, you can create different moods in the picture. Through the use of lenses, flares, and other lighting effects, images may appear surreal, romantic, or morbid. Photoshop tutorials can teach you the basic tips in creating different lighting effects to achieve the mood that you want.

3. Touch ups

This is the most basic section of Photoshop tutorials. In fact, this is what Photoshop is all about. People would want to enhance their pictures. If the camera may not seem to do the tricks, Photoshop can fix it. All you have to learn is to identify the basic steps in doing touch ups. With Photoshop tutorials on touch ups you can even make an old picture look new or arrange some flaws and make it more appealing.

4. Image presentation

Photoshop tutorials can give your picture a good lift from the ordinary. You can make two people appear together in the picture even if they were taken separately. Photoshop tutorials will teach you various means of presenting your picture — totally different from the way you have captured the moment. You can mix and match, combine and contrast, or simply create a new background without having to take a new shot. You just need to learn the basic Photoshop tutorials on image presentations.

So if your books and magazines cannot tell you more than what you need to know about image editing, hook yourself to the Internet and learn the different image editing tips and tricks through Photoshop tutorials.