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Designer Elsa Schiaparelli
Late 1920s–1974

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Elsa Schiaparelli was born in Rome, Italy in 1890. She moved to Paris in the 1920s where she opened her first couture fashion house. She left Paris in 1940 and opened her own fashion operation in New York City in 1949 and also opened a boutique offering ready-to-wear clothing, selling jewelry, perfume, cosmetics, lingerie, and swimsuits to complement her fashionable line of clothing. She licensed her name for mass production of costume jewelry and accessories made by David Lisner Co. which was also the authorized American agent and distributor for her earlier French-made pieces. In 1947, she created clothing in hot pink color, for before that time, black, brown and blue were the only popular and basic colors in womens clothing. Top designers for her establishment were Jean Schlumberg (designed the Circus collection), Serge Matta, Pierre Hubert Givenchy, Cecil Beaton, and Jean Clement. In 1949, the Ralph De Rosa Company produced Schiaparelli jewelry.

Schiaparelli earlier jewelry, was showy, imaginative, and bold with innovative designs but in her later years, the jewelry lacked the "off the wall" look of her earlier work. She is best known for her whimsical designs taking inspiration from nature, the circus themes, and the signs of the zodiac. Her jewelry designs also include Native African Art, and Jungle Primitives. She designed chunky suites with prong-set molded iridescent glass stones (called watermelon) and aurora borealis rhinestones (developed by Swarovski in 1955) or large faceted colored glass stones that were produced in the mid 1950s. The company used pot-metal, sterling silver and gold plated backings. Elsa retired in 1954 with the Schiaparelli line discontinued around 1955. She sold the rights to her name and business in 1973, therefore, American manufacturers continued producing her designs up to 1974. Lydo Coppola (married name Toppo), in Paris, designed pieces for Schiaparelli early in her career. Schiaparelli early 1930s pieces were unsigned and are rarely ever seen today. In the late 1930s, jewelry pieces were signed "schiaparelli" in lower case block letters up until 1949 and "Schiaparelli" in script after 1949, and "Designed in Paris-Created in America" 1949. Elsa died in Paris in 1973. Her jewelry is highly sought after and very collectible.


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