Elsa Schiaparelli's Zodiac Collection by Dr Sabina Stent
In 1938, Surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli — collaborator of Salvador Dalí, Leonor Fini and Jean Cocteau, and pioneer of everything ‘Shocking Pink’ — unveiled her Zodiac Collection. The spectacular celestial garments included jackets emblazoned with planets, dresses with stars, and solar-adorned capes. Every item was carefully thought-out and rooted in Schiaparelli's fascination with astronomy, Euclid’s Elements, and the constellation Ursa Major, her life-long talisman.
This illustrated lecture will specifically revolve around Schiaparelli’s Zodiac Collection, exploring her fascination with the Solar System and how astronomy influenced her life. We will also delve into Schiaparelli's scientific approach to couture, the collection’s effect on contemporary fashion, and how the planets provided creative force for other women artists associated with the Surrealist movement.
Dr Sabina Stent is a freelance writer specialising in women surrealists and visual culture. Her bylines include Magnum Photos, AnOther Magazine, Crime Reads, and MAI: a journal of feminism and visual culture (as a contributing editor). She is especially interested in how work by feminist-surrealists explores the body, fashion, the cinematic, and the uncanny. Her authored book chapters including ‘Women Surrealists and the Egyptian Imagination’ in Tea with the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt and the Modern Imagination (I. B. Tauris, 2019); and ‘Leonor Fini: Fashion Magic Sorceress’ in Making Magic Happen: Selected Essays From the Inaugural Magickal Women Conference 2019 (Hadean Press, 2021).
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