'Phoebus' cape, Elsa Schiaparelli

  • Elsa Schiaparelli, embroidery by Lesage

  • White label with trademark printed in black: Schiaparelli / 21, Place Vendôme Paris. Black stamp: HIVER / 1938-39 ['WINTER / 1938-39']
  • Gift of the children and grandchildren of Daisy Fellowes
  • Winter 1938-1939
  • Pink ratteen, paillette embroidery, sunray mask of tinsel and gold thread. Lining of quilted pink silk crepe, gold buttons and trim
  • GAL1963.20.8
  • Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

This iconic garment from the 'Cosmic' winter collection of 1938–1939 belonged to the famously elegant Mrs Reginald Fellowes, a wearer of the most extravagant Schiaparelli creations, including Salvador Dalí's 'shoe hat' ensemble. So named because of its sunray mask—the term 'Phoebus' identified the god Apollo with the sun—this cape was designed by Christian Bérard and featured in the October 1938 issue of Vogue. A strikingly theatrical effect is obtained by the contrast between the simplicity of the front and the luxuriance of the embroidery on the back. The colour reminds us of Elsa Schiaparelli's predilection for 'shocking' pink; indeed, she titled her biography Shocking Life.   

Notice's author : Sophie Grossiord