Rate the Dress: Schiaparelli Stripes

Sorry for another run of Rate-the-Dresses in a row, with no posts between them. Unfortunately I’m down with a cold, so haven’t been up to much else.

Last Week: a late 1880s evening dress

A few of you liked last week’s Ludinart dress, but most of you weren’t enthused: you didn’t like the tacked on hem frill, or the abrupt difference between the front and the back. Opinions were divided on the bow sleeves: were they fabulous or terrible?

Daniel pointed out that it looked like a dress to get your portrait done in. I’ve been looking at a lot of Sargent this week, and I can definitely see one of his sitters wearing it. The portrait reviews would probably have been a lot better than the dress: Sargent makes everything look good.

The Total: 6.9 out of 10

Definitely not a Worth!

This week: 

This week I’m going from a relatively unknown dressmaker, to a couturier who was an absolute acknowledged master of her craft. Love her work or hate her work, there is no denying that Schiaparelli was brilliantly inventive.

But not every work a master makes is a masterpiece. What about this one?

Evening ensemble, Elsa Schiaparelli, summer 1940; silk, metal, wool; French. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009.300.3165a,b. 2

This evening dress is made from a shot silk (possibly blended with wool), which looks sky blue from some angles, and gold from others. Seen in person, the effect would have been of liquid movement: the sea at sunset, both aqua and ochre.

In a still photograph, however, the dress, unfortunately, just looks stained. It appears as if the glamorous woman who wore it had decided to roll around in the famous red dirt of Hawaii.

Evening ensemble, Elsa Schiaparelli, summer 1940; silk, metal, wool; French. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009.300.3165a,b. 2
Evening ensemble, Elsa Schiaparelli, summer 1940; silk, metal, wool; French. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009.300.3165a,b. 2

Along with the play of light on the colours of the dress, the cut plays with stripes. Horizontals and verticals and bias intersect at different points, leading the eye to one spot, and then bouncing it away.

In order to get a straight line of stripes around the waist while still fitting the contours of a woman’s body, two long narrow tucks have been taken in at the front waist, releasing at the back.

Like many elements of the dress, it’s a clever trick. But is the dress more clever than beautiful or attractive?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it!  And 0 is not on a scale of 1 to 10.  Thanks in advance!)

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Rate the Dress: Schiaparelli Stripes