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Shocking Life Paperback – March 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Victoria & Albert Museum; First Edition, First Printing edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851775153
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851775156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) is best known for translating Surrealism into fashion art. Known for her flair for the unusual, she was the first to use shoulder pads and animal prints, and is the inventor of shocking pink. Her garments are part of the permanent costume and textiles collections at major museums.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Mascara on March 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
An absolutely charming little read, it lacks a lot of in depth discussion about her creative process, but it makes up for it in the delightful characterization of one of the most fascinating women designers of the 20th century. Schiap, as she refers to herself in the 3rd person (before switching fluidly back to 1st person), comes across the pages as a singular force powered by innate stubbornness and an insatiable curiosity about life. She breaks rules with a wink and a nod, bends conventions with effortless ease, and conveys the triumphs and disappointments of her remarkable life with self-effacing humor and tenderness.

It's not a deep, soul-searching autobiography, but neither is it complete fluff. She managed to strike the balance between exposing herself and keeping some things a tantalizing mystery... Something many of today's celebrity autobiographers could learn from.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By GUSTAVO PRADO RGUEZ on June 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For a fashion designer that in her time invented the newspaper print, the bottle perfume made as a little body -now copied by Gaultier-, the first zipper in a haute couture dress and a variety of items from hats to shoes and dresses inspired by surrealism and dada, this autobiography lacks of real interest in design and fashion.

Have you ever met such a lady so fascinated with herself that she always thinks everything she does from open a beer can to walk her dog is a world event? This is precisely the case here. Even when is not boring to read, Elsa seem to forget her real contribution to fashion design, and then what we get is a collection of traveling and social acquaintances. Once and then she just drop, 'and that was the time when I made the Roi Soleil -a perfume with a bottle designed by Dali, commemorative of the end of french occupation-' or I made a hat....
Her quite serendipitious arrive to fashion design when she order a knitted sweater to be made on her with a big ribbon drawn in the front by some armenian woman, was spotted in the street and get an order for dozens of them, was then continued by a career of many extravagancies -skeletons, lobster dress, a shoe-hat, that made her in that times more famous than Coco Chanel.

She stopped her career after the world war, when she was not able to be in tone with the zeitgeist and went into oblivion, when you read this book and just have the vague mention of Marcel Duchamp -his lover Maria Martins-, Dali, Paul Poiret, Greta Garbo, Lucien Lelong, even Chanel and Dior, but never get any interesting detail about them, you start to realize that maybe Elsa was to much intoxicated by herself to even be aware of the extraordinary presences she has in front of her eyes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Molly Haskell on September 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Elsa is a fascinating figure, especially as seen through the eyes of a girl growing up and wanting to spread her wings, but the book is really a fabulous mother-daughter story. It is brilliant and funny and original--the way the text and the illustrations play off each other--but at the heart is the portrait of a mother whose beauty was essential to her sense of self, and who was by turns loving, cruel, indifferent and demanding. Shocking pays affectionate tribute to a New York childhood while chronicling the ways in which a free-spirited daughter escaped the conventional standards of looks and behavior imposed by her mother.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bunny A. Goodjohn on September 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found the autobiography a little self-important somehow. Of course, she IS important, but it felt too heavy handed to me. Also I found the shifts from first person to third person jarring. I didn't finish the book but gave up about 2/3rds through.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ParisBreakfast on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
A fascinating look inside 'Schiap's life, following her day to day. Especially interesting are her survival techniques during the war and her ingenuity solving creative and life problems. A wonderful inside view of a uniquely innovative woman.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mbrejot on April 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I expected a behind the scenes look at the fashion industry and her personal empire during the thirties,forties and fifties. Instead I learned who she had lunch with and who invited her for dinner on any given day. Also she refers to herself in the third person throughout the book which I don't care for.
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