Beginning on October 18, Dalí and Schiaparelli will mark a notable first: never before have the two bodies of work from art and fashion been directly juxtaposed. The two figures were friends and collaborators, shared creative inspirations, and overlapped during their most prolific periods in Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s.
On display will be a collection of historic haute couture gowns and accessories, jewelry, paintings, drawings, objects and photos by Elsa Schiaparelli, as well as contemporary haute couture designs by Bertrand Guyon for Maison Schiaparelli.
Locally in Tampa Bay, most are familiar with The Dalí, a museum founded in 1982 with the extensive private collection of works donated by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. In 2011, a modern concrete and glass museum building opened to better protect and celebrate the whimsical, otherworldly nature of Salvador Dalí.
Fewer will be familiar with Schiaparelli, a name synonymous with the color shocking pink and mostly absent from the fashion vernacular between 1954, when the maison was shuttered, and 2012, when it was reopened in the same exact spot—21 Place Vendôme. Today, the “label” exists to continue the designer’s legacy by creating alluring and surprising designs for the Hollywood elite and private clients around the world.
Haute couture is widely regarded as the highest form of apparel design, using intricate details, the most beautiful fabrics, and endless handiwork. Individual garments often cost upwards of $50,000. Rarely is it shown outside of Paris.
I read Elsa Schiaparelli’s autobiography several years ago, and was fascinated by the fantastic and tragic life she led. Many of her best years were interrupted by the first and second world wars, though she enjoyed much success by disrupting the fashion status quo of the time. An excerpt from the press release:
Schiaparelli wrote that she “invented” her dresses, and the designs were known for their elegant and daring aesthetic combined with exquisite craftsmanship – a marriage of new ideas with traditional craft. Her designs were like the paintings of Dalí in that they combined renaissance precision with wild imagination and dreamlike visions. Their fashion and art both delighted and shocked the senses and that approach was a trademark of their collaborations; their works embodied a sense of freedom and possibility that enlivened popular culture during a tumultuous time.
My friend John William Barger, III is the catalyst behind this milestone for The Dalí and Schiaparelli Paris. He is a native of St. Petersburg but has spent his adult years here and in Paris, where he attends haute couture shows seasonally each year. He is also a stylist, consultant, and fashion contributor to NBC Daytime, a syndicated talk show that airs in over 100 markets across the US.
The exhibition’s opening weekend (October 13-15) will include a gala dinner, fashion show, and brunch. Tickets for the brunch are available and forthcoming (depends on patron capacity constraints); luncheon is sold out, gala tickets and patron and sponsor opportunities still available; call JWB directly to inquire +1.727.224.4954.
The public viewing period will run from October 18 to January 14, 2018. It will undoubtedly be on par with popular fashion exhibitions like Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2011 and Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, currently on at The Met in Manhattan.
I plan to see Dalí and Schiaparelli and celebrate its arrival in our region, which is joined by another fashion collection viewable across the bay now at the Tampa Museum of Art, Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter. Look for another blog post on that subject soon.