The Pagan Collection

Hat
Autumn 1938 (made)
The Pagan Collection thumbnail 1
The Pagan Collection thumbnail 2
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images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Pink and green flies and beetles crawl at random over this woven grass hat. This example of wearable surrealism was part of Elsa Schiaparelli's Autumn 1938 collection. She called it her 'Pagan Collection' and used natural themes - blossom, leaves, and insects. One necklace was made from clear plastic set with metallic insects like those on this hat.

Schiaparelli was famous for her creative fashion designs and unorthodox, free-thinking approach to detail and decoration. Her skill was in taking everyday garments and using unexpected details and trimmings to make them extraordinary. She was inspired by the work of her friend the artist Salvador Dali, who regularly included crawling insects in his 1930s Surrealist pictures.
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read 'Shocking Life' by Elsa Schiaparelli In this extract from her autobiography, fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli (1890 – 1973) recalls the making of her very first design: a simple knitted sweater with a surreal twist.
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watch Introducing Elsa Schiaparelli Fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli (1890 – 1973) was one of the most remarkable couturiers of the 20th century, known for her subversive, sometimes overtly surreal designs. In this film, Sonnet Stanfill, Senior Curator of Fashion & Textiles, takes a closer look at some of Schiaparelli's mo...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Woven sea-grass, metallic trimming
Brief Description
Hat of woven sea-grass with metallic insects, 'The Pagan Collection', designed by Schiaparelli, Paris, autumn 1938.
Physical Description
Wide-brimmed hat made from white woven sea-grass. Grosgrain hatband, trimmed with pink and green metallic beetles and other insects.
Style
Production typeHaute couture
Marks and Inscriptions
Schiaparelli London (Label inside hat)
Credit line
Given by Lady Alexandra Trevor-Roper
Object history
Worn and given by Lady Alexandra Trevor-Roper



Historical significance: Important example of one of Schiaparelli's surrealist hats from a significant period of her creativity





Photo of this on pg. 70 of Surreal Body.

Although hat shape looks like 1950s, it may well be earlier, as bugs are very similar to those on Rhodoid bug necklace from Fall 1938 collection and would have been more in step stylistically then.



Jan G. Reeder, Curator, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Taken May, 2011, Compiled September, 2011



Historical context
"April 28: Schiaparelli's collection for Autumn 1938, "A Pagan Collection", features Botticelli-inspired and spring themes: leaves, apple blossoms, wild strawberries and insects. There are also doll-sized hats, three dimensional petal and leaf embroidery, and a flat collar necklace of Rhodoid set with insects." (Blum, p.297)



The above-described necklace, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (gifted by the Brooklyn Museum) can be seen on pages 170-171 of "Fashion and Surrealism", which clearly shows how similar the insects are to those scattered over this hat. The hat was acquired as 1950s, however, the label in this hat is from the Schiaparelli London salon, which closed in 1939. This confirms beyond a doubt that the hat dates from the 1930s and is a rare example of headwear from this significant and relatively little-known Schiaparelli collection.



- Daniel Milford-Cottam, 2011



Bibilography




Blum, Dilys E. Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2003

Martin, R. Fashion and Surrealism, London, 1988.



References:

Elsa Schiaparelli (French, born Italy, 1890–1973). Necklace, autumn 1938. Clear Rhodoid (cellulose acetate plastic); metallic green, red, pink, blue, and yellow painted pressed metal ornaments. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta Ramos, 1955 (2009.300.1234)
Subjects depicted
Summary
Pink and green flies and beetles crawl at random over this woven grass hat. This example of wearable surrealism was part of Elsa Schiaparelli's Autumn 1938 collection. She called it her 'Pagan Collection' and used natural themes - blossom, leaves, and insects. One necklace was made from clear plastic set with metallic insects like those on this hat.



Schiaparelli was famous for her creative fashion designs and unorthodox, free-thinking approach to detail and decoration. Her skill was in taking everyday garments and using unexpected details and trimmings to make them extraordinary. She was inspired by the work of her friend the artist Salvador Dali, who regularly included crawling insects in his 1930s Surrealist pictures.
Collection
Accession Number
T.427-1974

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record createdMarch 30, 2007
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