Elsa Schiaparelli was influenced by the Surrealist art scene of Paris in the 1930s, and references to that movement frequently materialize in her designs. Artists were using collage, photography and paint as their medium; Schiaparelli was using clothing. Here, in a suit from her fall 1938 Pagan collection, she incorporates three elements that have become hallmarks of her career-- interesting fabric, Surrealist elements and unconventional buttons. Schiaparelli scoured fabric houses to find fabrics that perfectly translated her artistic ideas. The crepe used for this jacket and dress is highly textured, adding a rough dimension to the overall design. The Surrealist elements here, the plastic bug ornaments, are shockingly realistic and in juxtaposition to the delicate pink silk of the collar where they rest. As Dilys Blum states in Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli, many designs from this collection featured earthy decorations inspired by Botticelli's paintings, like flowers, fruits, animals and insects. Buttons were another form of expression for Schiaparelli. In this case, the leaf-shaped buttons represent foliate forms, another common motif seen throughout the Pagan collection. This unusual ensemble would require a certain level of fashion bravado, and the previous owner, Millicent Rogers, definitely possessed that.


  • Title: Suit
  • Creator: Elsa Schiaparelli
  • Date Created: fall 1938
  • Physical Dimensions: Length at CB (a): 23 1/2 in. (59.7 cm) Length at CB (b): 47 1/2 in. (120.7 cm)
  • Type: Suit
  • External Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Collection Online
  • Medium: synthetic, silk
  • Designer: Elsa Schiaparelli
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Millicent Huttleston Rogers, 1951
  • Creator Death Date: 1973
  • Creator Birth Date: 1890
  • Accession Number: 2009.300.2374a–c

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