Woman's Dinner Dress

Designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, French (born Italy), 1890 - 1973. Embroidered by Lesage, Paris, founded 1922.

Made in Paris, France, Europe

Summer 1939

Rayon crepe, metallic thread embroidery, pearls, seed beads

Waist: 27 inches (68.6 cm) Length: 58 1/2 inches (148.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mme Elsa Schiaparelli, 1969

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The embroidery design represents Saint Peter's keys. The same model, in blue, was owned by Lady Clark, wife of the British art historian Sir Kenneth Clark.

Additional information:
  • PublicationShocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli

    The summer 1939 collection also included “heaven” inspired designs like this orange rayon-silk crêpe dinner dress decorated with the crossed keys of Saint Peter under the triple crown of the Vatican, embroidered in seed pearls, diamante, and gilt thread. A lattice of seed pearls forms a yoke and neckband and is also used as bands on the slightly puffed sleeves. At its presentation the design was shown with long, pale, old-rose-colored gloves and short buttoned boots in orange and mauve striped satin. Appropriately, Jane Clark, wife of the art historian Kenneth Clark, owned a hyacinth blue version of the gown. Kenneth Clark was at the time director of the National Gallery in London and had recently published a book on Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was one of the artists and architects involved with the building of the Church of Saint Peter’s in Rome. Dilys E. Blum, from Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli (2003), p. 205.