Fashion, almost to a fault, is all about the now. But every once in a while, a piece of fashion history makes news as well. Such is the case when the house of Schiaparelli, which showed its haute couture collection on Monday, decided to re-issue one of Elsa Schiaparelli’s most iconic pieces–the Zodiac jacket.
Created as part of her fall/winter 1938-9 Astrological collection, originals of this jacket exist in the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and some have been reportedly sold at auction for a six figure sum. The jewelry designer Sabine Getty, a long time friend of the house (she wore Schiaparelli Couture on her wedding day) wore the new midnight blue jacket with beads and golden embroidery by the legendary couture embroiderer label Lesage for the re-issue.
“Out of all the famous jackets she created, the Zodiac one is probably the most iconic,” Schiaparelli design director Bertrand Guyon said. “As a little girl, you can easily imagine her totally fascinated by her uncle [astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli] working at the observatory of Brera, Milan and looking at the stars. He is also the one who told her she was unique as the beauty spots on her cheek shaped [like] Ursa Major that subsequently became one of her lucky charms.”
The jacket was so steeped in the house’s history, it was an easy decision to resurrect it for today’s “prêt-à-couture” consumer. It was also an easy decision due to one simple fact: “The original sample of the embroidery that was created by Lesage in 1938 still exists. It allows Lesage to use the exact same technique and elements,” Guyon said. Another little known fact, he explained, was that the mother of François Lesage was the one who actually designed the embroidery for Schiaparelli. “Madame Lesage was the one who sketched embroideries at Lesage and Elsa Schiaparelli only wanted to work with her. Therefore, it is a women’s story-Elsa Schiaparelli and Madame Lesage working together for other women to wear their creations.”
The Zodiac jacket, which is available now at the Schiaparelli salon, features the constellation Ursa Major, along with the 12 signs of the zodiac. “Strangely enough, I do not relate to astrology,” Guyon said. “When I discovered the sample of the zodiac embroidery at Lesage decades ago, I felt something really strong in me, something that resonated within me and thought about it for a long time, obviously without knowing that one day I would work here at Schiaparelli!”
The collection Guyon showed Monday at the Place Vendôme salons was the first since France’s Industry Ministry granted Schiaparelli couture status again, one of 15 houses allowed that denomination. Appropriately enough, it happened to coincide with the its 90th anniversary. (The label shut down in 1954 but was revived in 2013 by Diego Della Valle.)
“I think of Madame Schiaparelli and I feel she might be happy that her house is once again officially labelled Haute Couture," Guyon. "Wherever she is, she might be happy about it. There are very few houses doing official Haute Couture.”
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