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Evening ensemble - Pagan

Pagan

  • Object:

    Evening ensemble

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1938-1939 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Elsa Schiaparelli, born 1890 - died 1973 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rayon marocain, backed with satin, embroidered with various gilt threads, beads and diamantés, lined in crêpe-de-Chine

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Alexandra Trevor-Roper

  • Museum number:

    T.399&A-1974

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This stylish ensemble was worn by Lady Alexandra Dacre (then Lady Alexandra Haig) at a masked carol party in December 1938. It was designed by Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973). Schiaparelli was born in Rome. She studied philosophy, spent her early married life in the USA in Boston and New York, and in 1920 moved to Paris. One of her first designs, a black sweater knitted with a white bow to give a trompe-l'œil (trick of the eye) effect, was seen by a store buyer and subsequent orders put her into business. In 1928 she opened a shop called Pour le Sport. Her own salon followed a year later.

Schiaparelli was famed for her attractive and wittily designed evening ensembles. Her clothes were smart, sophisticated and often wildly eccentric, but she had a huge following. Her ideas, coupled with those she commissioned from famous artists, were carried out with considerable skill. Salvador Dalí, Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau, for example, designed fabrics and accessories. Jean Schlumberger produced costume jewellery and buttons. Cubism and Surrealism influenced her designs. She used tweed to make evening wear and hessian for dresses. She dyed furs, put padlocks on suits and created a vogue for Tyrolean peasant costume.

In 1935 she dyed plastic zippers the same colour as her fabrics and then positioned them in exposed places rather than concealing them as dress closings, making their use both decorative and functional. This bias-cut dress, for example, fastens at the side with a bold plastic 'Lightning' zip.

Physical description

Evening ensemble consisting of satin dress and jacket.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1938-1939 (designed)

Artist/maker

Elsa Schiaparelli, born 1890 - died 1973 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Rayon marocain, backed with satin, embroidered with various gilt threads, beads and diamantés, lined in crêpe-de-Chine

Object history note

Another version of this jacket is held by the Metropolitan Museum, New York. (Met Museum number 1974.338.4)

Photo notes:
Collar front: leaves are encroaching upon the neckline and neck. Leaf shaped buttons. Likely from the Pagan collection (1938).

Pocket detail: pouch shaped pockets at the bottom
Front: Classic padded shoulders. Very classic Schiaparelli dinner suit

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

Descriptive line

Evening ensemble consisting of satin dress and jacket, designed by Schiaparelli, London, fall 1938. (Pagan Collection).

Categories

Evening wear; Embroidery; Fashion; Women's clothes

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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