* Personal effects of trailblazer designer to be auctioned
* Giacometti lamp, Man Ray photos, boas, turbans on offer
* Christie's says auction could net 800,000 euros
By Alexandria Sage
PARIS, Jan 17 Elsa Schiaparelli, doyenne of
1930s Paris fashion, may be long gone - buried in her favourite
hue of shocking pink - but nearly 200 pieces from her closet,
along with her fine art and furniture, may enjoy a second life
after an auction next week.
In the heady, pre-war Paris of the 1930s, Italian-born
Schiaparelli exerted her sense of subversive, outlandish whimsy
on couture from her design studio on the Place Vendome, creating
conversation pieces that flouted convention.
Devotees of the trailblazer who dared women to be bold can
choose between a silk violet blouse from the "Astrology"
collection, a series of Man Ray photographs of the designer, a
multi-coloured feather boa or a delicately painted bird cage -
up for the highest bidder at the Jan. 23 auction in Paris.
"She had this incredible side of her that loved to have fun,
that was very original, that dared to do anything, that was
provocative but always chic," said Schiaparelli's granddaughter,
Marisa Berenson, on Friday.
Described by Time magazine in 1934 as "madder and more
original than most of her contemporaries," Schiaparelli
hobnobbed with the avant-garde artists of the day like Salvador
Dali and Jean Cocteau, both of whom became collaborators. Her
greatest rival was Coco Chanel.
She was the first to fuse fine art with fashion and her
creations adorned the likes of the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene
Dietrich and Joan Crawford.
Whether designing a white organza evening gown printed with
the image of a lobster, a hat that resembled a high-heeled shoe,
adding lips to pockets or bugs to necklaces, Schiaparelli's
daring and provocative sense of humour make Lady Gaga's zaniness
today look almost ho-hum.
"She went to one famous ball dressed as a radish with lots
of birds eating off her and you have to have a great imagination
to go, and also to dare to go, dressed as a radish. You have to
have a sense of humour," Berenson said.
"It was Schiaparelli who pointed the way for all subsequent
designers who have made bold, subversive statements through
dress," says the Christie's auction catalogue.
Echoes of Schiaparelli can be seen in the work of designers
Jean-Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz and Miuccia Prada.
FLAIR FOR FLAMBOYANCE
Matador jackets in pink and blue, 18th century tapestries,
tunics from China, Japanese kimonos and Ottoman kaftans, elegant
turbans and exotic tabletop items made from horns are all on
offer in the auction expected to raise about 800,000 euros.
So too is a series of Jules Cheret posters from the Belle
Epoque, fashion sketches from French illustrator Christian
Berard and a plaster figure of Mae West, whose curvaceous form
inspired the bottle for Schiaparelli's "Shocking" perfume.
The designer who was photographed by Man Ray and Irving Penn
and drawn by Picasso had a fondness for furniture. A Napoleon
III giltwood two-sided settee upholstered in delicate lavender
silk is expected to fetch up to 800 euros.
Christie's says the star lot is a bronze standing lamp
designed by Alberto Giacometti estimated at 60,000-80,000 euros.
"She's right up in the top echelon of couture history and
couture purchases," international specialist in fashion and
textiles from Christie's, Patricia Frost, said.
Schiaparelli closed her studio in 1954 after liquidation.
The brand was bought by Diego Della Valle, head of Italian
leather goods company Tod's, in advance of a
high-profile relaunch in 2012.
Creative Director Marco Zanini, formerly of Halston and
Rochas, is set to show his first haute couture collection for
the brand in Paris on Jan. 20.
In her 1954 autobiography, Schiaparelli wrote: "Ninety
percent (of women) are afraid of being conspicuous, and of what
people will say. So they buy a gray suit. They should dare to be
Schiaparelli was laid to rest in 1973 in Paris. She wore an
antique Chinese robe in her favourite colour.
(Additional Reporting By Johnny Cotton; Editing by Janet