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Evening dress
  • Evening dress
    Elsa Schiaparelli, born 1890 - died 1973
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Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1949 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Elsa Schiaparelli, born 1890 - died 1973 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk jersey, boned, metal

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Madame Elsa Schiaparelli

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Strapless evening dress of black silk jersey, ruched and gathered from top to bottom. Ankle length. Metal zipper in the front, over pelvic area, vestigal tail and 'spine' formed by ruching down the front of the dress. Shaped strapless top with a boned black silk foundation. The bodice fastens at the centre back with hooks and eyes, and the skirt hooks up to the bodice on the right hand side of the front.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1949 (made)


Elsa Schiaparelli, born 1890 - died 1973 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Silk jersey, boned, metal

Marks and inscriptions

Printed Schiaparelli label
Stitched inside the centre front

Written in blue on a tape on the back

Object history note

Photo The Surreal Body, pg. 81
The dress has a spine which starts at the CF zipper and extends to hem
Photo Notes:
Bodice front: exposed zipper in the front turns into the spine.
Skirt Front: shows fabric shirred on central cord.
Label: French label
Spine edge front: resembles stingray
Bodice back: wraps around
Bodice open: bodice semi attached to the skirt.

Jan G. Reeder, Curator, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Taken May, 2011, Compiled September, 2011

Historical context note

This dress is very similar to Schiaparelli's 1949 design, "Forbidden Fruit". See illustration in Blum, p.273, which shows the same use of ruching/straplessness, and also the distinctive pelvic zipper. Although acquired as 1945, 1949 is probably the more realistic date.

- Daniel Milford-Cottam

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

Descriptive line

Strapless evening dress of silk jersey, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, Paris, ca. 1949

Production Note

Acquired as 1945, but is probably 1949. See history section

Reason For Production: Commission


Silk jersey


Fashion; Women's clothes; Evening wear; Textiles

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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