Zodiaque" collection, autumn-winter 1938-1939
Beautiful and rare Galerie des glaces dinner jacket in silk velvet embroidered by Lesage with gold blades framing two mosaics of 27 small beveled mirrors, held together by glass stars. Closed on the front by four buttons with neoclassical heads. Gathers on the shoulders.
Wears a bolduc "362".
Three slight crushes of the velvet and a few gold strips cut off the collar.
The Cosmic collection, a reference to astronomy and the Sun King
One of the characteristics of the work of this fashion genius was to always set a theme for each of his collections.
Schiaparelli's "Cosmic" collection is notable for its sumptuous embroidery and ornamentation. Like all Schiaparelli collections, the theme is a mix of historical references, ideas and contemporary events.
Presented in August 1938, the collection dealt with astrology, planets, constellations, the sun, King Louis XIV and his successor Louis XV.
Schiaparelli's interest in neoclassicism and the 18th century is evident in this jacket with embroidered mirrors. The seventeen massive arcades of the Hall of Mirrors, each filled with mirrors, must have inspired the baroque cartouches on this jacket front, with a face-to-face motif, used since antiquity.
A "surreal" jacket
Even more than this reminder of Versailles, the mirror also refers to Breton's "marvellous" and to the magic of haute couture, where everything is possible.
The surrealist Pierre Mabille described the mirror as "the most banal and extraordinary magical instrument of all" that "evokes problems fundamental to self-identity, the characters of reality".
But more than that, a surrealist provocation is also introduced in the fractured surface of the mirrors, "broken". Schiaparelli's mirrors are thus both an art historical legacy and a contemporary sensibility responding to a world on the brink of war.
Jean Cocteau defined Schiaparelli's studio as "a laboratory of the devil. The women who go there fall into a trap and come out masked, disguised, deformed or reformed, according to Schiaparelli's whims.
Continuous attention to detail
The quality of the embroidery on this jacket demonstrates the high level of mastery of the house of Lesage, with whom Schiaparelli regularly collaborated.
This attention to detail is also evident in the choice of buttons. The four buttons on our jacket, moulded in a composite in the shape of a Greco-Roman woman's head, echo the classic references of the collection. They are due to
It is likely that the buttons were modeled on an image of the goddess Arethusa shown on an ancient Greek coin minted in Syracuse on the island of Sicily around 410-400 BCE.
Arethusa and her connection to Syracuse had personal significance for Schiaparelli. His father Celestino was a great coin collector and expert on Muslim Sicily while his uncle Giovanni, the astronomer, discovered the double appearance of Arethusa Lacus on Mars in 1888. Arethusa was also the title of a book of passionate love poems she wrote at the age of twenty-one.