- Do you think that the surrealist movement influences fashion even nowadays?
Absolutely. Surrealist elements have been incorporated into fashion since the movement started in the 1920s. I’d say it’s heyday for fashion designers and Surrealist collaborations was in the 1930s and 1940s, but it’s impact can be felt since. The Postwar interest in Surrealism and fashion was definitely influenced by Wesley Simpson. He was a New York textile converter that worked with French artists to create textile designs. This was a way for painters to have an expanded market. Not everyone can afford an oil painting by someone like Salvador Dali or Rene Magritte. But a few yards of fabric designed by the artist was a brilliant way to incorporate art into everyday life, and at a price point that many people could afford. I think recent interest in Surrealism and fashion has to do with the insight of curators like Dilys Blum (Philadelphia Museum of Art) as well as Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda (Metropolitan Museum of Art). These curators really brought awareness of Surrealism and it’s impact on fashion with the exhibits Shocking! The Art & Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli and Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations, respectively. These exhibits allowed a new generation to become familiar with Surrealism. After these exhibits opened, there was a clear correlation of Surrealist elements showing up in contemporary fashion design. Prada, Philip Treacy, Diane Von Furstenburg – they were just some of the numerous designers that referenced Surrealism in the past 5 years. I think that we will continue to see Surrealism impacting fashion because it gives a certain shock value. People want to be remembered, and that’s certainly easy if you’re wearing a gigantic lobster on your head.
- Do you think that art will carry on influencing fashion in the future?
- Dali has an important influence on the 20th century, do you think Dali is a visionary?
Honestly, I think he was a little crazy :) He famously said things like: “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” and “There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.” But perhaps the chaos of his mind was what made him truly innovative. He saw and experienced things that others didn’t. I supposed that is what makes a visionary.
- In your opinion, what would be Schiaparelli fashion house if it would not have been closed in 1954 ?
- You surely heard about that, what do you think of the idea of Diego Della Valle to relaunch Schiaparelli house and give it a second breath?
I have heard this before. When I hear about these kinds of things, I try to push it to the back of my mind. I like to view collections and exhibitions without any expectations. It may be magnificent, it might not. I’m sure there will be elements of interest. If I had any advice to Diego Della Valle, it would be to read Schiaparelli’s autobiography, Shocking Life. If he is interested in relaunching her brand, I hope he takes the time to understand the way in which she perceived things.