A Shocking Good Time: An Ode to Elsa Schiaparelli

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A Shocking Good Time: An Ode to Elsa Schiaparelli
Put your lighters in the air if you’re still over-the-moon blissed out after watching Adele set fire to the rain at the historic Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. Then, get thee quickly to YouTube, and re-stream clips of the CBS network’s “Adele: One Night Only” concert. Rolling in the chic, the singer-songwriter was all prinked up in a Schiaparelli by Daniel Roseberry ensemble: Saturn pendant earrings and a black faille gown. With its off-the-shoulders sleeves, moon rock embroidery and fishtail skirt, designer Elsa Schiaparelli would have definitely approved of the Rosenberg’s “Celestial” theme, a nod to the Schiap’s own 1938-39 Winter “Zodiac” collection. Not a dry eye in my house as Lady Gaga performed at President Biden’s January 2021 inauguration ceremony, cloaked in a peace-themed Schiaparelli ensemble. Look for the dove and olive branch confection. (Photo credit: Maison Schiaparelli) Make you feel my love So in celebration of the release of Adele’s “30” project and the fast-approaching holidays, I’ve created an inspirational post, cherry-picking my favorite quotes from Schiaparelli’s 1954 autobiography, A Shocking Life. Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I reach for this book. True grit, spit, and wit reign here. Before I know it “Brack” is back on track. I’ll also share a few advertisements from my personal collection, along with a few snaps from Daniel Roseberry’s debut Schiaparelli presentation at Place Vendôme — for your O.O.T.D. mood board. After all, who doesn’t need a few accessories (and historical tidbits) so spanking cool that they’ll set you off from the crowd as a peep who is as clever as stunning? On the 1st of January, in 1935, Schiap opened up shop at Place Vendôme. Shocking Fragrance, Harper’s Bazaar, 1944. (Advertisement: Theadora Brack Collection) Here’s the zip On January 1, 1935, “Schiap” moved her salon from the fourth floor at 4 rue de la Paix to 21 Place Vendôme (facing Napoleon’s column and adjacent to the Hôtel Ritz), where she opened one of the first prêt-à-porter boutiques in Paris. One could easily pop by the shop and score “ready to be taken away immediately” dresses, evening sweaters, bathing suits, shorts, lingerie, lounge wear, dressing gowns, hats, jewelry, stockings, and handbags, along with “useful and amusing gadgets afire with youth.” The mind squeals. Where’s time travel when you need it? Window-shopping at Schiap’s Boutique Fantastique, Place Vendôme, 1950. The mind squeals. Where’s time travel when you need it? (Slide: Theadora Brack Collection) Making the scene Schiaparelli’s perfumes were also available in the shop, displayed in a giant birdcage made of gold-painted bamboo. Created by décor guru Jean-Michel Frank, the design was inspired by Schiap’s favorite Picasso painting, “Bird Cage and Playing Cards.” Following French historic preservation guidelines, Frank also revamped the other rooms at 21 Place Vendôme (there were 98 in all!). It was the 1930s, so stark was making its mark. The walls and molding were painted white, while flattering lighting was made possible by concealing lights in abstract plaster columns.
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Lead photo credit : Rolling in the Chic: Adele was all prinked up in head-to-toe Schiaparelli by Daniel Roseberry at the historic Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, November 2021. (Photo credit: Maison Schiaparelli)

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Theadora is a Paris-based writer who has a regular column, called “My Life in Paris," in France Today magazine.