Elsa Schiaparelli was an influential Italian fashion designer who made a significant impact on the fashion industry during the early to mid-20th century. Her unique and daring designs revolutionized fashion and challenged traditional concepts of beauty. While many may be familiar with her name, there are numerous fascinating aspects of her life and work that are lesser-known. In this article, we will explore 10 interesting facts about Schiaparelli that you probably didn’t know.

1. She Was the First to Use Zippers in Haute Couture

Schiaparelli was not only a pioneer in her designs but also in her use of innovative materials. In 1930, she became the first haute couture designer to incorporate zippers into her garments. At a time when buttons were the norm, Schiaparelli pushed boundaries and showcased her forward-thinking approach to fashion. This revolutionary move not only modernized her designs but also set a trend that would soon be adopted by others in the industry.

Furthermore, Schiaparelli’s use of zippers was not limited to practical purposes. She utilized them as decorative elements, incorporating them into her designs to add a unique touch of avant-garde aesthetics. This unconventional approach further solidified her reputation as a daring and innovative designer.


2. She Collaborated with Salvador Dalí

Schiaparelli was known for her collaborations with artists from various disciplines. One of the most notable partnerships was with the renowned surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. Their collaboration resulted in some of the most iconic pieces in fashion history.

Dalí’s imaginative and eccentric style perfectly complemented Schiaparelli’s unique fashion vision. Together, they created unconventional garments adorned with Dalí’s provocative designs. One of their most famous collaborations was the Lobster Dress, which featured a silk dress embellished with a large lobster print, inspired by Dalí’s fascination with the creature.

The collaboration between Schiaparelli and Dalí not only pushed the boundaries of fashion but also blurred the lines between art and clothing. Their joint efforts remain an influential and memorable chapter in the history of both art and fashion.


3. She Introduced Culottes to Women’s Fashion

One of Schiaparelli’s contributions to women’s fashion was the popularization of culottes. While culottes are now a common and fashionable item, they were relatively unknown before Schiaparelli introduced them in the 1930s.

Schiaparelli’s culottes challenged the societal norms of the time, which dictated that women should only wear skirts or dresses. By creating culottes, she provided women with an alternative and practical clothing option that allowed for greater freedom of movement. Her bold and progressive approach to fashion helped break down gender stereotypes and paved the way for more inclusive and comfortable clothing choices.

The introduction of culottes marked another instance where Schiaparelli dared to be different, and her influential designs continue to inspire contemporary fashion designers.


4. She Popularized the Color Shocking Pink

Schiaparelli was known for her use of vibrant colors, and she played a significant role in popularizing the color known as shocking pink. Inspired by the vivid colors often used by surrealist artists, Schiaparelli incorporated this vibrant hue into many of her designs.

This particular shade of pink, also referred to as Schiaparelli Pink, has a strikingly intense and saturated appearance. It quickly became synonymous with Schiaparelli’s bold and avant-garde style. By embracing a color that was considered unconventional at the time, Schiaparelli challenged the norms of femininity and added an element of excitement and audaciousness to her designs.

The influence of shocking pink can still be seen in contemporary fashion, as designers continue to experiment with bold, statement colors, much like Schiaparelli did during her era.


5. She Launched the Perfume ‘Shocking’

In addition to her revolutionary fashion designs, Schiaparelli also made her mark in the fragrance industry. In 1937, she launched her first perfume, appropriately named “Shocking.” This fragrance was another expression of her rebellious nature and desire to challenge conventions.

“Schiaparelli Shocking” was a bold and daring scent. Its unique combination of floral, spicy, and woody notes made it stand out in a market filled with more conservative fragrances. The bottle design was equally unconventional – shaped like a female torso, it perfectly captured the bold and avant-garde spirit of the time.

The success of “Shocking” further solidified Schiaparelli’s reputation as a fearless innovator who was unafraid to venture into uncharted territories. Today, the iconic fragrance continues to captivate perfume enthusiasts and remains a testament to Schiaparelli’s boundary-pushing approach.


6. She Designed the First-Ever Zipper Jewelry

Schiaparelli’s creativity and penchant for experimentation were not limited to fashion garments and fragrances. She also extended her innovative approach to jewelry design. An example of her groundbreaking jewelry designs was her creation of zipper jewelry.

Schiaparelli’s zipper jewelry, introduced in the 1930s, featured real functioning zippers transformed into wearable adornments. These pieces showcased her ability to transform everyday objects into fashionable accessories. By incorporating zippers into her jewelry designs, she added a touch of unconventional glamour and playfulness.

The zipper jewelry designed by Schiaparelli remains highly sought after by collectors and is considered a testament to her exceptional creativity and ability to challenge traditional forms of adornment.


7. She Introduced the Trompe-l’oeil Technique in Fashion

Schiaparelli was widely recognized for her whimsical and surrealistic approach to fashion. One of the ways she expressed this was through her use of the trompe-l’oeil technique, which creates optical illusions, tricking the viewer’s eye into perceiving a two-dimensional image as three-dimensional.

Schiaparelli applied trompe-l’oeil to her designs, incorporating elements such as printed bows, pockets, and buttons to create the illusion of real objects on her garments. This technique added depth and interest to her designs, challenging the traditional boundaries of fashion and providing a fresh perspective on clothing construction.

By embracing the trompe-l’oeil technique, Schiaparelli blurred the lines between reality and imagination, infusing her creations with a touch of surrealism and establishing herself as a true innovator in the world of fashion.


8. Jean Cocteau Was One of Her Early Mentors

Jean Cocteau, the French poet, playwright, and filmmaker, played a significant role in Schiaparelli’s early career. Recognizing her talent and avant-garde fashion aesthetic, Cocteau became one of her mentors and introduced her to influential figures in the Parisian art and fashion circles.

Under Cocteau’s guidance, Schiaparelli’s interest in surrealism grew, and she became connected with luminaries such as Salvador Dalí and Man Ray. Cocteau’s support and mentoring early on in her career helped Schiaparelli establish her unique artistic vision and gain recognition within the art and fashion worlds.

The guidance of Cocteau paved the way for Schiaparelli to become one of the most influential and groundbreaking fashion designers of her time, leaving an indelible mark on fashion history.


9. She Was the First Female Fashion Designer to Land the Cover of Time Magazine

Schiaparelli’s impact on the fashion world was so significant that in 1934, she became the first female fashion designer to grace the cover of Time magazine. This milestone was a testament to her influence, not only within the fashion industry but also within popular culture.

The cover featured a portrait of Schiaparelli herself, emphasizing the recognition she received for her avant-garde designs and unconventional approach to fashion. This achievement not only broke barriers for female designers but also gave Schiaparelli a platform to further push boundaries and challenge traditional ideals of beauty and style.

Schiaparelli’s appearance on the cover of Time magazine remains an iconic moment in fashion history, showcasing her status as a trailblazing visionary.


10. She Invented the Shoe Hat

Schiaparelli was known for her imaginative and innovative headwear designs. One of her most unique creations was the famous shoe hat, which made a bold statement and became an iconic symbol of her avant-garde fashion sensibility.

The shoe hat, designed in collaboration with Salvador Dalí, featured a high-heeled shoe tilted on its side, allowing the wearer’s head to occupy the space where the foot would typically go. This whimsical and surrealistic headpiece perfectly encapsulated Schiaparelli’s ability to challenge traditional notions of hat design and transform ordinary objects into extraordinary wearable art.

The shoe hat became a hallmark of Schiaparelli’s distinctive style, demonstrating her fearlessness in embracing unconventional concepts and pushing the boundaries of fashion.


In conclusion, Elsa Schiaparelli was a trailblazing designer who defied conventions and left an indelible mark on the fashion industry. From her pioneering use of zippers and culottes to her collaborations with Salvador Dalí and invention of the shoe hat, Schiaparelli’s legacy continues to inspire and influence contemporary fashion designers. Her innovative designs and boundary-pushing approach to fashion cemented her position as one of the most prominent figures in fashion history.

By exploring these lesser-known facts about Schiaparelli, we gain a deeper understanding of her fearless creativity and the significant impact she had on shaping the fashion landscape of her time and beyond.

Learn more about Schiaparelli’s legacy.
Discover more about the Schiaparelli and Dalí collaboration.
Read a comprehensive article on Schiaparelli’s life and philosophy.
Learn about the history and significance of Schiaparelli Pink.
Explore the official Schiaparelli website for a glimpse of their contemporary designs.
Delve into the whimsical world of Schiaparelli’s jewelry designs.
Discover the trompe-l’oeil technique in fashion.
Learn more about Schiaparelli’s early mentors and influences.
Read about Schiaparelli’s groundbreaking appearance on the cover of Time magazine.
Visit the Schiaparelli website for more information on their renowned designs and products.