Saree dress at FIT museaum in NY

Elsa Schiaparelli

An exhibition exploring the works of 50 of the most important designers of the 20th and 21st century, from Elsa Schiaparelli to Gareth Pugh,”The Great Designers, Part One” which started on November 29, 2011 runs till May 8, 2012 while “The Great Designers, Part Two” will run from May 23rd to November 10, 2012 at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.

Elsa Schiaparelli bias-cut gown, printed black rayon, fall 1935, France, gift of Yeffe Kimball Slatin. © The Museum at FIT (Image courtesy:

For a moment I thought this was a saree. At least from this angle it looks that way.

But then in 1930’s styles of other cultures were very commonly used.

See another one of her saree inspired dress


Fashion in the mid-1930s glorified styles of other cultures. Indian and Southeast Asian styles were particularly evident in the work of Elsa Schiaparelli. Vogue remarked that her “sari dresses” made women look like “Hindu princesses.”

This sari dress was worn by Madame Arturo Lopez-Wilshaw, the great-niece of the supremely elegant Eugenia Errázuriz. Like her great-aunt, Madame Lopez-Wilshaw was a considerable force in the fashion world, particularly during the late 1930s. During the Phony War, when she and her husband moved from their house in Neuilly to the Ritz, Madame Lopez-Wilshaw’s Wednesday suppers became a well-known site of fashionability. Vogue explained, “At the first parties, Patricia Lopez wore a short afternoon dress, but, little by little, women arrived in long black sheaths, and now you definitely have to dress for dinner. This is part of the general discipline. Women must be attractive, and the signal of emulation is given. Nothing eccentric or fussy, but sound, refined taste. Long-sleeved dinner dresses, jewels, and smooth, curled hair.”

I think I will start another category of saree dresses. It’s time.


Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) was an Italian fashion designer. Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, she is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in fashion between the two World Wars.

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