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Not currently on display at the V&A

Cravat

Jumper
1927 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Elsa Schiaparelli plays with the idea of a bow in this woollen jumper. She uses the trompe-l'oeil effect, which creates an optical illusion. The simple hand-knitted garment and its direct graphic image reflect the more relaxed attitude to formal wear for women in the late 1920s. The geometric, 'stepped' quality of the bow's curved outlines are an unavoidable technical feature of hand knitting. The designer exploits this feature and uses the design to hint at her later involvement with the Surrealist Movement: 'I drew a large butterfly bow in front, like a scarf round the neck - a primitive drawing of a child'.

Schiaparelli wore the jumper to a society luncheon. It was a remarkable success and she received numerous orders. More amusing designs followed, including trompe-l'oeil ties and handkerchiefs. She soon opened her first salon, selling modish sportswear. The success of this jumper resulted from Schiaparelli's combination of traditional crafts - in this case, knitting - with her own inventiveness and wit. Many of her later designs show her understanding of the fashionable potential of such combinations.

The jumper forms part of the Cecil Beaton Collection. Sir Cecil Beaton was a society photographer. He contacted the well-dressed élite of Europe and North America to help create this lasting monument to the art of dress. The Collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue that detailed its enormous range.
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.
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
Hand-knitted woollen
Brief Description
Jumper of hand knitted wool, 'Cravat', designed by Schiaparelli, France, 1927.
Physical Description
Jumper of hand knitted woollen with a trompe l'oeil bow.
Dimensions
  • At bust circumference: 68cm (Note: Bust)
  • Length: 472mm
  • Weight: 0.3kg
  • Circumference: 555mm (Note: waist)
Gallery Label
'CRAVAT' JUMPER Hand knitted wool French: Elsa Schiaparelli, 1927. In the 1920s sweaters and jersies, previously worn for work or sport, became fashionable for informal daytime wear. This 'trompe l'oeil' design jumper started Schiaparelli's career. "So I drew a large butterfly bow in front, like a scarf round the neck. These sweaters were reinforced at the back with fine woollen stitching, always in the same colour as that of the contrasting figures. The stitches showed through discreetly, breaking the monotony of the background so that it gave an effect reminscent of the impressionist school of painting" (Elsa Schiaparelli, Shocking Life, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1954, p.47 and p.49) Other, more outrageous sweater designs by Schiaparelli included tattoos and a skeleton. Like the cravat jumper, they were made by Armenian knitters living in Paris. Given by Madame Elsa Schiaparelli The Cecil Beaton Collection T.388-1974 The skirt is a replica(1985)
Credit line
Given by the designer
Summary
Elsa Schiaparelli plays with the idea of a bow in this woollen jumper. She uses the trompe-l'oeil effect, which creates an optical illusion. The simple hand-knitted garment and its direct graphic image reflect the more relaxed attitude to formal wear for women in the late 1920s. The geometric, 'stepped' quality of the bow's curved outlines are an unavoidable technical feature of hand knitting. The designer exploits this feature and uses the design to hint at her later involvement with the Surrealist Movement: 'I drew a large butterfly bow in front, like a scarf round the neck - a primitive drawing of a child'.



Schiaparelli wore the jumper to a society luncheon. It was a remarkable success and she received numerous orders. More amusing designs followed, including trompe-l'oeil ties and handkerchiefs. She soon opened her first salon, selling modish sportswear. The success of this jumper resulted from Schiaparelli's combination of traditional crafts - in this case, knitting - with her own inventiveness and wit. Many of her later designs show her understanding of the fashionable potential of such combinations.



The jumper forms part of the Cecil Beaton Collection. Sir Cecil Beaton was a society photographer. He contacted the well-dressed élite of Europe and North America to help create this lasting monument to the art of dress. The Collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue that detailed its enormous range.
Bibliographic Reference
Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971no. 219
Collection
Accession Number
T.388-1974

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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