Could 11, 2023—Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel each gained prominence throughout the identical interval in vogue historical past and established Parisian couture homes that had been fairly well-known of their day. They had been additionally rivals. Exterior the circle chronicling the stylish, particularly within the latest previous, it initially seems that the Home of Chanel’s prominence over time eclipsed the esteemed enterprise based by Schiaparelli. Already crying no contest in favor of Chanel? Not so quick.
There’s extra to this story than a well-liked model and a well-recognized emblem. Realizing extra in regards to the life and work of those two girls will help proffer a solution to the query: who received the rivalry?
The Case for Chanel
Most would agree, no less than till just lately, that Chanel was extra well-known throughout generations of vogue followers than Schiaparelli, particularly for folk exterior the classic clothing- and jewelry-collecting realm. After Schiaparelli was off the style map for all sensible functions within the mid-century, many ladies flocked to purchase purses with the acquainted Chanel “CC” logo. Because of this, you may say on title recognition alone that Chanel received the rivalry with Schiaparelli.
Being a classic jewellery fanatic, I’ll additionally insert that Chanel’s jewellery to accompany couture clothes has at all times been extra plentiful than Schiaparelli’s. Chanel’s collaboration with Gripoix produced a number of the most intricately stunning adornments that high-end collectors search right this moment. These designs are superb and noteworthy. A long time later, the ready-to-wear jewellery the Home of Chanel marketed was on level, even within the Sixties. For my part, it’s rather more attention-grabbing, design-wise, in comparison with what the Schiaparelli model was selling throughout the identical interval.
Nevertheless, issues go downhill once you delve into these girls’s private lives. Chanel’s involvement with the Nazis throughout World Conflict II actually leaves, to say the least, a bitter style behind. And, for many individuals, that takes Chanel off the desk because the winner no matter her logic on the time. It may be troublesome to measure the actions of others from one other day and time with the perceptions of right this moment, however some classic jewellery sellers received’t even carry her jewellery for that reason.
Nonetheless, Chanel revived her vogue empire in 1954, the identical yr Schiaparelli closed hers (though her title was used for licensing merchandise afterward). Chanel’s imaginative and prescient for what vogue might be—from traditional fits to little black clothes and coordinating adornments—has remained on the forefront of vogue for nearly a century.
The Counterpoint for Schiaparelli
There’s little doubt that the recently revived House of Schiaparelli has a brand new technology of vogue devotees taking discover. However in some ways, Schiaparelli’s surrealist designs have at all times forged a shadow over Chanel’s extra conventional couture. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, when the ladies’s manufacturers dueled for consideration, Schiap—a nickname from again within the day that lives on—appealed to the avant-garde set, whereas Chanel was extra about class. I imply, how are you going to actually pit a conservative tweed go well with and several other strands of pearls towards Schiap’s well-known lobster gown and shoe hat? Schiaparelli collaborated with Salvador Dalí to create each, together with their famed skeleton gown and different objects like a Baccarat fragrance bottle. For those who’re a fan of Surrealism like I’m, that’s noteworthy. Moreover, socialite Wallis Simpson famously wore the lobster gown in a Cecil Beaton photoshoot in 1937, which can also be spectacular.
Schiaparelli additionally created a stir along with her signature “Stunning Pink” coloration used for clothes, hatboxes, and packaging for her Stunning perfume. Even the torso-shaped bottles impressed by Mae West holding her fragrance made an plain assertion, and collectors nonetheless search them. Nonetheless, exterior of amassing and vogue historical past circles, individuals all however forgot many of those outstanding merchandise till 2014, when the model was revived. Since then, right this moment’s trendy set has embraced Schiaparelli with a brand new fervor. For instance, Woman Gaga, Cardi B, Adele, and different stars have been noticed sporting jewellery and clothes that testify to Schiap’s authentic statement-making imaginative and prescient. Most of the outsized, imaginative jewellery items significantly mirror the Surrealist origin of the model.
And since it’s possible you’ll be questioning what she was doing throughout World Conflict II whereas Chanel was concerned with the Nazis, some say Schiaparelli skilled to be a nurse’s aide for the Crimson Cross and did reduction work for these struggling in France. That’s a pleasant distinction, however others, together with america authorities, strongly suspected that she was a spy for the Vichy regime recognized for Nazi collaboration. That supposedly made it onerous for her to reestablish her vogue home after the struggle ended. Modern girls additionally longed for recent seems to be by the late Nineteen Forties, so Schiap’s imaginative and prescient modified to extra conventional seems to be for each daywear and night gown that had been pretty however far much less attention-grabbing.
A Conclusion: Who Gained?
So, what do you suppose? Who received the rivalry? From a private standpoint, I can’t assist however have respect for the Chanel model’s longevity and success, whereas the Schiaparelli title was all however forgotten for many years. Chanel additionally epitomizes the traditional rags-to-riches story, whereas Schiap constructed upon a silver spoon upbringing. Nevertheless, when it comes to precise creativity again within the day, in my thoughts, the underdog is the winner of this grudge match.
Personally, I discover Schiaparelli’s quirkiness to be extra intriguing. She went past class to embrace artwork and take design dangers throughout her peak of success. And now, with the model being revived and seeing renewed curiosity, Maison Schiaparelli is once more producing jewellery and clothes with the identical artsy enchantment that made her designs a winner within the Thirties.
Need to learn extra about these well-known French vogue homes? WorthPoint® has Dictionary pages on figuring out and valuing jewellery by Schiaparelli and Chanel. You may also take a look at our Weblog article on the manufacturers’ collectible vintage perfume bottles.
Pamela Siegel is a contract author and writer who has been educating collectors for greater than 20 years. Along with three books on matters regarding antiques and collectibles, she steadily shares her experience by means of on-line writing and articles for print-based publications. Pamela can also be the co-founder of Costume Jewellery Collectors Int’l (CJCI) and the proprietor of Stylish Antiques by Pamela.
WorthPoint—Uncover. Worth. Protect.