Woman's Evening Dress and Veil

Designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, French (born Italy), 1890 - 1973. Designed in collaboration with Salvador Dalí, Spanish, 1904 - 1989.

Geography:
Made in Paris, France, Europe

Date:
Summer 1938

Medium:
Printed silk crepe; silk crepe with cut-outs and appliqués

Dimensions:
(a) Center Front Length: 57 inches (144.8 cm) (a) Center Back Length: 41 1/2 inches (105.4 cm)

Copyright:

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1969-232-45a,b

Credit Line:
Gift of Mme Elsa Schiaparelli, 1969

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Label:
This evening dress is printed with an illusionistic design of torn animal flesh, which is given a third dimension in the appliquéd fabric applied to the veil.

Additional information:
  • PublicationShocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli

    One of the paintings in Schiaparelli’s personal art collection was Dalí’s Necrophiliac Springtime from 1936, in which the head of the corpselike female figure dressed in a gown with torn sleeves bursts into bloom. The image was made reality by Sheila Legge in London that same year, during the New Burlington Galleries’ International Surrealist Exhibition, when Legge was photographed in Trafalgar Square as the “Surrealist Phantom,” her head completely covered in roses and wearing a long white dress shredded at the hem. Necrophiliac Springtime was one of three paintings Dalí made in 1936 with similar figures; the others are The Dream Places a Hand on a Man’s Shoulder and Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in Their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra. In all three works the boundary between gown and body has dissolved, so that the torn fabric cannot be distinguished from flayed skin. This theme was developed further in the Schiaparelli-Dalí design collaboration for her Circus collection of summer 1938, presented at the beginning of February, just after the opening of the Paris Surrealist exhibition on January 17. This evening dress from that collection is printed with an illusion of torn animal flesh, with the trompe l’oeil effect given a third dimension in the appliquéd fabric applied to the “tent” veil. On the pale blue fabric, now faded to white, the “skin” is slashed and peeled back to reveal a magenta underlayer, the hanging pieces printed to look like fur, as if the gown were made from an animal skin turned inside out. Dilys E. Blum, from Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli (2003), p. 139.