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Shocking Schiap


If we say Rosa, we say ELSA SCHIAPARELLI to whom we pay homage with the help of our friend NICOLETTA DE MENNA who draws an interesting portrait of her ... good reading in pink!

It is not possible to talk about pink without considering one of the brightest and most vibrant ranges of this shade, Schiaparelli pink. This color is actually a mixture of red, green and blue which leads to a very intense shade close to magenta. The definition of rosa Schiaparelli appears in the world of fashion in 1937 when the designer Elsa Schiaparelli launches her perfume Shocking de Schiaparelli. "Schiap" (she loved talking about herself in the third person using this nickname) wanted everything about this perfume to be memorable, shocking: she therefore asked the sculptor Leonor Fini to draw her a bottle that has the shapes of Mae West, an actress a very disturbing American that was very popular at the time, and for the packaging he chose a strong and vibrant shade of pink that from then on will be known as shocking pink or even Schiaparelli pink.

Elsa Luisa Maria Schiaparelli was born in Rome, in Palazzo Corsini, in 1890; his father Celestino came from a family of Piedmontese intellectuals and had come to the capital to teach Arabic language and literature at the university, but he was also the first librarian of the Accademia dei Lincei. The mother belonged to a noble Neapolitan family.

Elsa immediately showed a strong inclination towards all forms of art, of any kind, which was not particularly pleasing to the family which, as we have seen, had a solid but traditional cultural background. To try to contain her restlessness, she was also sent to a very strict boarding school in Switzerland from which, however, she soon found a way out by moving to London where she married and had a daughter, Gogò.

Short periods of stay on the Côte d'Azur and in New York followed, then the traces of the marriage are lost and she arrives in Paris in 1922, alone with her daughter. Paris at that time was the most imaginative community of artists and intellectuals in Europe, the environment for her, the one she dreamed of all her life. Elsa is very happy in that world and takes root, therefore an Italian transplanted and definitively set in Paris, perhaps the first in the world of fashion as we understand it today.

At first, through Francis and Gaby Picabia, the friends who host her, she easily fits into artistic environments; the cultural and social depth of the family of origin opens all the doors to her. Fashion approaches for the first time with Paul Poiret who at first makes her his model / muse even if Elsa has a decidedly out of the ordinary physiognomy. Poiret said that Schiaparelli could wear anything in an unrepeatable and sublime way due to her strong personality, and Elsa dressed as Poiret begins to attend all the events in the French capital and make herself known. Later she became its pupil and there she was struck by love at first sight with fashion because she realizes that she can use it to express her passion for art and make clothes into living artistic posters.

This conviction is strengthened in 1934 when he meets Salvator Dalì, another brilliant and unconventional personality. The two have many things in common, one of all the desire to amaze; complicity ensues and they decide to break together the boundaries that until then had separated art from fashion, giving life from then on to a season of memorable creations.

We could talk about Schiaparelli for a long time and in different fields but for this time we remain faithful to the theme of color, "his" pink which is defined as shocking in the '30s thanks to the perfume, or hot pink in the' 50s (do you remember the Marilyn Monroe dress in the movie “Do men prefer blondes”?), or extravagant pink in the 60s. As Helen Varley wrote in her book COLORS, it is a shade that "appears in the vanguard of more than one youth revolution". This definition that practically consecrates the Schiaparelli pink as the living manifest color of many new artistic currents would certainly have pleased her very much.

I close with a curiosity: Marisa Berenson, an American model and actress with a strong personality, is the daughter of Gogò and therefore the granddaughter of Elsa Schiaparelli. In this case, it can certainly be said that good blood does not lie!

Nicoletta de Menna
always passionate about modern and contemporary history, which tells the theme of clothes and costume changes.
@nicoletta_de_menna Facebook and Instagram


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