15 Reasons Why Elsa Schiaparelli Was A Total Genius

She used pink so hot it was “shocking” AND made dresses with Salvador Dali. Need I say more?

Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who rose to prominence in the early 1900s, became famous for many things, but mostly her use of the color pink and sense of whimsy. Last year Tod’s CEO Diego Delle Valle announced he would revive the Schiaparelli label, which was shuttered after a period of struggling in 1954 when the designer was just 64. Now Valle’s plans are crystallizing: Christian Lacroix was just hired to design a 15-piece capsule couture collection for the house. Why, this is enormously exciting news! Because Schiaparelli deserves a splashy homage for being a total genius. Here’s why.

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1. She basically made hot pink eternally cool.

This dress is from 1938.

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Schiaparelli’s signature shade was “shocking pink.”

We should go back to using that term. Way better than “hot pink.”

(This dress dates to the late 1930’s.)

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Another late ’30s look.

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2. She named her perfume, which debuted in 1936, “Shocking.”

After her signature pink color.

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A watercolor ad for Shocking by fashion illustrator and artist, Marcel Vertes.

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Another Vertes ad, featuring a donkey. From TK.

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3. When she introduced lipstick in 1946, it was scented like her “Shocking” perfume.

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(To this day, Nars carries a shade called “Schiap” in her honor.)

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4. Her designs were clever and surreal.

Take this jacket from the fall 1937 collection, where sequin “hair” cascades down the arm.

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A 1937 collaboration with artist Jean Cocteau.

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5. Her collaborations with Salvador Dali, a friend, were just wonderful.

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Like this skeletal dress.

From 1938.

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And this dress with “tears.”

Another piece from 1938.

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And this hat.

Winter 1937–‘38.

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And this famous lobster dress.

Dali painted the lobster on this piece, which Wallis Simpson wore in a Cecil Beaton photograph.

The dress dates to 1937.

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6. Her accessories were also wonderfully cheeky.

From the fall 1936-‘37 collection.

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Fall 1938–‘39.

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Fall 1934.

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7. She created a tiny phone for women to carry around in their purses at all times. Because she was ahead of her time like that.

This is actually a mirrored compact. It dates to 1935.

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8. And she saw beauty in unexpected places and things — like bugs.

This necklace is from the fall 1938 line.

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Beetle buttons, also from fall ‘38.

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9. Her gowns were quirky pieces of art.

From the spring 1937 line.

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Fall 1939.

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10. You can tell she was incredibly forward-thinking because Beyoncé would totally wear this today.

And this dress is from 1948.

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11. She could do floral prints that weren’t floral prints.

A creation from 1940.

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12. Her 1940’s color blocking puts today’s street style stars to shame.

Spring 1940.

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13. She was famous for her personal style as well as her designs.

If street style blogs were a thing her her day, she’d be EVERYWHERE.

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Covering Time Magazine.

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14. She could pull off a turban.

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15. She was a shameless man repeller way before… the Man Repeller.

Yes, that’s a leopard’s face on her head. No big deal.

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