Her style was a social revolution through clothing—luxurious, eccentric, ironic, sexy. In Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography is the never-before-told story of perhaps the most extraordinary fashion designer of the 20th century, in her day more famous than Chanel.
Meryle Secrest, acclaimed biographer, writes of Elsa’s keen instincts—an astute businesswoman, she launched herself into hats, hosiery, soaps, shoes, and handbags, in the space of a few years. By 1930, her company was grossing millions of francs a year. Meryle chronicles her exploits during World War II (she managed to escape from Europe to the United States) and, using FBI files, shows that during Elsa’s stay in New York, her whereabouts were documented almost week by week; she was never explicitly charged, but the cloud of collaboration lingered long after her return to Paris.
As Meryle traces the unfolding of this dazzling career, she reveals the spirit that gave shape to this large and extravagant life, a woman—a force—whose artistic vision forever changed the face of fashion and redefined the boundaries of art.
Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography ($35 from Knopf) is available at Lake Forest Book Store, 847-234-4420.