Shocking The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli

Marie-Sophie Carron de la Carrière, Olivier Gabet, Valérie Belin, Johannes Huth, Dilys Blum, Emanuelle de l'Écotais, Jean-Louis Gaillemin, Patrick Mauriès, Marie-Pierre Ribère, Hanya Yanagihara

Published to accompany the major exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, this book on the work of the great twentieth-century designer Elsa Schiaparelli is destined to become a must-have reference for all fashion lovers.

The couturière Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) was a key figure in Paris fashion between the two World Wars. Following in the footsteps of her mentor Paul Poiret, she designed her first knitwear collection in January 1927 announcing the arrival of a major new designer. Decorated with trompe-l’oeil motifs in black and white, her sweaters were an immediate success in both France and the US. In 1935, the Maison Schiaparelli opened on the Place Vendo^me in Paris, selling collections designed for sports, city, and evening wear.

Like her arch-rival Gabrielle Chanel, Schiaparelli also worked closely with artists, including Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, and Salvador Dalí, with whom she created her now-iconic lobster dress. Taking a cue from Surrealism, her creations were hugely imaginative and made use of innovative new materials. The “Schiap” style continued to develop through the 1930s and her designs were renowned for their originality and creativity. Her most famous collections addressed themes including the circus (Summer 1938) and astrology (Fall/Winter 1938–39). In 1937, Schiaparelli launched the fragrance “Shocking,” named after shocking pink, which had become her signature color.

Alongside vintage photographs, sketches, and contemporary features from Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, this volume presents specially photographed masterpieces from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Destined to be the definitive volume on the great designer, this lavishly produced and illustrated book brings to life the work of this influential figure in the history of fashion.


Illuminating and grand… The book's stunning visuals…include design drawings and color photographs of Schiaparelli's creations… Not even the most dedicated fashionista will leave Shocking without a deeper sense of Schiaparelli's effort to make clothes that encouraged people to think.

— Shelf Awareness

An alluring tribute to the inventive designer who was so far ahead of her time she's still avant-garde nearly 50 years after her death… Includes trenchant essays on Schiaparelli's life, achievements, and influence.


One hundred and twenty designs and accessories are lavishly photographed in full color… You will be struck by the breadth of Schiap's influence… Essential reading is Hanya Yanagihara's interview with the current artistic director of Maison Schiaparelli, Daniel Roseberry.

— Avenue

Explores the sensational creations of the Italian designer [and] traces the evolution of 'Schiap' style. Drawings, essays, original artwork, archival material, and contemporary features fill the gaps in the story.

— Air Mail


Marie-Sophie Carron de la Carrière


Marie-Sophie Carron de la Carrière is a senior curator at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Olivier Gabet

Introduction By

Olivier Gabet is director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Valérie Belin

Photographs By

Johannes Huth

Preface By

Dilys Blum

Text By

Emanuelle de l'Écotais

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Jean-Louis Gaillemin

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Patrick Mauriès

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Patrick Mauriès is a writer and publisher of many notable titles on fashion and design, including Goude: The Chanel Sketchbooks, Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams, and The World According to Karl.

Marie-Pierre Ribère

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Hanya Yanagihara

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