Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the most iconic fashion designers of the 20th century. She flourished in Paris in the era between world wars and was influenced by the surrealists and artists such as Salvador Dali. Cleveland Heights resident Marjorie Johnson knew "Schiap" and worked as a runway model for her collections. Marjorie will be at Mac's on Saturday, November 15th at 7 p.m. to talk about her experiences and about the new book Elsa Schiaparelli by Meryle Secrest.
Marjorie says: "The spring of 1948 I was taken on to "pass the collection" chez Schiaparelli on the Place Vendôme in Paris. At that time models walked with sunken chests and sucked-in cheeks - I smiled and held eye contact with the clients, and Schiap liked that. We worked together in the fitting rooms with good humor, and she invited me once to cocktails at her apartment. The other models were of various nationalities, so our time together in the dressing room was fun and instructive. My best buddy there was Schiap's very young designer, sweet Hubert de Givenchy. Meryle Secrest's biography Elsa Schiaparelli is particularly evocative of WWII times."
Last year, writer Patricia Volk wrote a memoir and meditation about the the influence of Schiaparelli, juxtaposing Volk's mother's story with that of the famed fashion designer. Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli and Me will be available at Mac's along with Elsa Schiaparelli.
More on Elsa Schiaparelli:
Her style was a social revolution through clothing-luxurious, eccentric, ironic, sexy; synonymous with fashion innovation and chicesse. She was audacious; her fashions were inspired from the whimsical to the most practical-from a Venetian cape of the commedia dell'arte to a Soviet parachute. She collaborated on her designs with some of the greatest artists of the twentieth-century: on jewelry with Jean Schlumberger; on clothes with Salvador Dali; with Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti; with photographers Man Ray, Horst, Cecil Beaton, and the young Richard Avedon.
She was known as the Queen of Fashion; a headline attraction in the international glitter-glamour show of the late twenties and thirties; she gave fabulous parties-and went to those given by others; she lived and worked seriously and hard in much-photographed residences and was a guest at others; she knew the "everybodies" who were always "there" and inevitably became one of them herself, feted in Rome (where she was born), Paris, New York, London, Moscow, Dallas, Hollywood, Dublin.