Elsa Schiaparelli was a fashion designer equal to Coco Chanel in her heyday – and they were arch rivals in the period between the two world wars. Yet Schiaparelli’s name hasn’t had the longevity and recognisability of Chanel’s as her business shut in 1954, unable to keep up with the changing times and left to flounder. Six years ago Diego Della Valle of Tod’s Group acquired the Schiaparelli brand name and slowly but surely has been gearing up for a relaunch with a creative director to be imminently announced within a month. The house will reopen as a haute couturier with its headquarters at the original 21 Place Vendôme, where she opened her Schiap boutique in 1935.
The vaulted ex-model and actress, Ferida Khelfa has been working for the house as an ambiguous chameleon of both muse and ambassador and was tasked with rejuvenating the Schiaparelli interiors, retaining many of the original artefacts that belonged to Schiaparelli as well as commissioning works that are in the spirit of the surrealist designer. The result is a decadent suite of rooms, dotted with references to Schiaparelli’s work in the aesthetic of the furnishings as well as in the numerous sketches, illustrations and photos from Schiaparelli’s past. It’s essentially a show house to bring people into the world of Schiaparelli, for you to immerse in the history with the future yet to be known for the house. Giacometti gold columns, Vertès collages and sketches, original sphinx sculptures from the store interior and trinkets such as a Salavador Dali powder compact and glasses made by Man Ray are just some of the highlights of this visual treat of an apartment.
Original drawings by Dali such as 'Woman with Drawer' serve to illustrate Schiaparelli’s link with the surrealist movement (in 1936 she presented coats with drawers to mark her first collaboration with the artist). Pierre Le-Tan who illustrated many of Schiaparelli’s perfume campaigns contributed a drawing on the wall highlighting the world of Schiap. The furniture has been commissioned to reflect Schiaparelli’s taste even if they weren’t originally in her apartment – a shocking pink satin sofa resembling misshapen lips, a dining table by Vincent Darré and Fernand Léger-designed carpet. The house of Schiaparelli may not be in full motion yet but in 21 Place Vendôme , they have a physical base camp that form the foundations needed for a solid fashion house.