Coat, spring 1939
Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)
Polychrome wool felt, blue silk faille; L. at CB 57 1/2 in. (146.1 cm)
Gift of Ruth Ford, 2002 (2002.479.4)
More than any other designer working in Paris during the mid- to late 1930s, Schiaparelli epitomized the giddy, blithe world occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. As Bettina Ballard commented in her autobiography In My Fashion, "Her daring nonsense—fish-shaped buttons, monkey hats, fox-head gloves, skunk coats, lobster prints, bold colors—plus a true sense of hard chic made her exactly right for those last, frivolous, extravagant years before World War II." Her "Commedia dell'Arte" collection was perhaps her most theatrical and fantastical. Introduced by the strains of Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Pergolese, and Cimarosa, it represented Schiaparelli's response to the deteriorating political situation in Europe.