Designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, French (born Italy)
Wool felt, fulled wool, silk thread embroidery
Center Back Length: 55 inches (139.7 cm)
Gift of Mme Elsa Schiaparelli, 1969
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About This Coat
This evening coat comes from Schiaparelli's spring 1939 "Modern Comedy" collection, which was based on the Commedia dell'arte, an improvisational comedy that originated in Italy in the sixteenth century. Schiaparelli adapted colors and patterns from the actor’s traditional costumes with brightly colored satins, peaked clown hats, and theatrical masks. This evening jacket was based on the costume of Harlequin, one of the stock characters from the Commedia dell'arte. Harlequin was known as a prankster and traditionally wore a costume covered with random patches of every color. Over the centuries the patches evolved into blue, red, and yellow diamonds. This floor length jacket, with its multicolored diamond shaped patches of wool felt, is Schiparelli's interpretation of Harlequin’s costume. Schiaparelli was not the only artist who adopted the harlequin pattern; the theme was also popular with modern artists such as Man Ray and Pablo Picasso.
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