The Parachute Collection thumbnail 1
The Parachute Collection thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Fashion, Room 40

The Parachute Collection

Evening Dress
early 1936 (designed), early 1936 (made)
Place Of Origin

Summer evening dress of bias-cut white organdie over a matching slip, with a wide sash of purple satin.
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.
object details
Object Type
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Evening Dress
  • Evening Dress Sash
  • Evening Dress Petticoat
Brief Description
Summer evening dress, white organdie, trimmed with purple velvet and satin, Schiaparelli, Paris, 1936.
Physical Description
Summer evening dress of bias-cut white organdie over a matching slip, with a wide sash of purple satin.
Production typeHaute couture
Historical context
The silhouette of the skirt, which suggests an opening parachute or flower, is similar to that of a black and white rippled-satin mid-calf length dinner dress in the collection (T.391-1974). The dinner dress is a documented and published design from the Parachute Collection of summer 1936 (ref. Paris Centre de Documentation de Costume, Schiaparelli, Album no 11, 1936, p.79; design also reproduced on page 92 of Dilys Blum's book 'Shocking! The art and fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli').

The "Stratospheric" and "Aeroplane" silhouettes of the Parachute collection for summer 1936 (which was presented February 1936) were inspired by parachutes and aerodynamics. On a visit to Moscow, Schiaparelli had been fascinated by the sight of Russian citizens parachuting from a specially set up tower. As a child, she had jumped out of a window using an umbrella as a parachute, so this was also reflected in her designs for this collection. Another influence was Leonardo's parachute drawings.

- Daniel Milford-Cottam, 2011
Accession Number
T.42:1 to 3-2010

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record createdJune 27, 2011
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