Art Journal

Nature Ramblings ~ Past Times Time Travel ~ Romancing Daily Life

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Vintage Threads: Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses Get me Dreaming

Elsa Schiaparelli created this gorgeous design
for her autumn 1937 collection
I encountered this evening coat, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, in the Victoria and Albert (V&A) fashion gallery, when I visited London in late May. If you come along on my audio tour of the exhibit, you'll hear a discussion I had with a Londoner about these lovely details, and the trompe l'œil urn design ... Is it an urn or is it two women facing in?   You may already recognize this famous double image created by artist Jean Cocteau designed to fake the viewer out. If you want to read more about the art movements that inspired Miss Schiaparelli's work, as well as more details about the garment, follow this link ( )  to the V&A.

I've never really been that all taken by trompe l'oeil, but I do love roses! Don't you want a bevy of these beauties? I know I do, and of course the fact that I'm caught up working slowly and carefully through my denim skirt project (learning jeans-sewing skills without yet encountering the challenge of fitting jeans) gets me dreaming about switching horses in mid stream. Best to simply dream and plan these roses, and get the skirt finished, don't you think? 

You can check out other views
of this coat at 
How will I use these blooms on that great come-and-do-it-day when I sit down with needle and a mass of silken ribbons? Well.... despite the beauty of this sumptuous evening garment, I know that I wouldn't get a lot of use out of a similar long flowing garment. It wouldn't be too practical  in a software Meetup, on a walk to the grocery store, a bike ride or trip to class. Sure, I might wear it to the ballet, opera or theatre but those aren't places I go everyday. In fact I have a pretty hooded black velvet coat I've been using for special occasions since college, and it still works great. That was a lifetime purchase (I found it in a low-key consignment store), so I won't be creating another special occasion garment with these.

I'm planning to create and use my roses in a rather different way. I wrote about those plans in a posting I wrote in Stitcher's Guild/Artisan Square, when I visited to ask a few how-to questions. 

I think they (the roses) would look nifty as an embellishment on my denim jacket, placed in a similar way to the ones that Elsa designed.

I know there are a lot of ways to make fabric roses. I'm partial to spider-web roses - but I think these are made differently. They almost look like origami- and maybe some kind of folding technique would be best. Another woman touring the gallery wondered if maybe when they were originally made, did they perhaps stand up a little more 3D, and over time they've flattened out. If so, a little iron steam might do the trick, though the flattened origami-kind of look looks good too.

As you will see, if you visit the forum and read this posting (,21274.0.html ), I'm not an expert when it comes to ribbon embroidery. But I got a lot of pointers from the folks in the group. No, the life of a creator just wasn't the same before we had the power of the web, was it? (In fact we used to depend on family members, classes, schools, clubs, neighbors, groups and our local libraries. We weren't that all deprived.)

Some of the basics I acquired reading different people's answers. (Though you will get more ideas when you visit the forum). 

Folks Suggested...

* Either silk ribbon or a strip of heavy bias silk--folded, draped, and layered into a rose shape similar to ribbon embroidery. 

* Intense pink at the center of each rose may be a brush dipped into dye.

* The leaves and golden bits perhaps crewel embroidery.

This gorgeous vintage camisole has
roses similar to the embellishment on the Schiaparelli Evening Coat

I loved reading the different ideas and discussions about antique ribbon work. And what about the beautiful camisole photo that emerged from the question? Yes, another distracting garment!

With the resources and ideas collected in this discussion, I'm expecting it won't be too long before I have my own bouquet of ribbon roses. 

You may also enjoy....

Stitcher's Guild Artisans Square, Forum Posting - "How Would You Create Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses?",21274.0.html

 The Enchanted by Sewing Audio Tour of the V&A