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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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,798 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 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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14 of 17 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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. It took a bit to get used to her writing style but worth the effort. She was fascinating and so are/were her Granddaughters. She surprised me by her "service" during WW2 and lots of interesting and sometimes sad bits. Example: One of her Granddaughter was killed on 9/11 aboard one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. As a francophile I may have been more inclined to enjoy her love of France and talking about Paris. If you too love them then you will enjoy this book. Not an easy read and one must know a bit about history from that era, but I recommend it to those interested.
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By Nancy on January 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
What an unexpected little treasure this book is. Part memoir and part biography, Patricia Volk moves effortlessly from her own conventional mother to the avant garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli who was a great influence on the author as she was growing up. I really knew nothing about Elsa before I read this book in spite of the fact that I am about the same age as the author so I enjoyed learning about this colorful and influential woman.
One reviewer who did not like the book said that she listened to it as an audio book which was a huge mistake because she did not get to see all the marvelous photographs. You can't possibly "get" this book without seeing the approximately 100 photos provided. Another reviewer didn't like it because she was expecting a shocking expose of the fashion industry. Within the first few pages you learn that Shocked is the name of an Elsa Schiaparelli perfume owned by the author's mother not how the reader is going to feel as he/she reads the book!
And lastly, this book is very funny!
OOPS, THIS IS A REVIEW OF "SHOCKED", NOT "A SHOCKING LIFE". My bad.
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