Woman's Boots

Designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, French (born Italy), 1890 - 1973. Designed in collaboration with André Perugia, French, 1893 - 1977. Made by Padova, Paris. Label Perugia pour Padova, French.

Geography:
Made in Paris, France, Europe

Date:
Summer 1938

Medium:
Suede, monkey fur

Dimensions:
7 3/4 x 3 inches (19.7 x 7.6 cm) Length: 7 3/4 inches (19.7 cm) Other (Heel): 3 1/4 inches (8.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1969-232-55b,c

Credit Line:
Gift of Mme Elsa Schiaparelli, 1969

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Accessories were of the greatest importance to the Italian-born fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, whose hats, bags, shoes, gloves, scarves, jewelry, and buttons often defied conventional expectations for such seemingly "subordinate" items in an ensemble. From gloves incongruously sporting fingernails to hats shaped as lamb chops or shoes, Schiaparelli's accessories, which she described as "witticisms" or "conceits," cried out for attention, and were responsible for much of her notoriety as fashion's great innovator before the Second World War. Schiaparelli designed these suede high-heeled boots for herself in collaboration with André Perugia, the premier shoe designer and maker in France between the wars. Here again the unexpected is the norm for Schiaparelli: the monkey fur embellishing the boots cascades onto the ground, paradoxically emancipating footwear from functionality. When paired with a black jersey top whose front and back are completely enveloped in matching fur, the boots would confer instant Surrealistic chic. They are among some seventy-five garments and accessories given to the Museum by the designer. H. Kristina Haugland, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 98.
  • PublicationShocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli

    Some of the most modern and original designs for footwear in the 1930s were created by André Perugia for Schiaparelli. These included ladylike high buttoned boots in pastel leathers and striped satins as well as surreal designs like these boots from Schiaparelli’s 1938 Circus collection, with monkey fur cascading over the ankle to the floor. They recall a painting by René Magritte, Love Disarmed (1935), of blond hair spilling out of a pair of shoes placed in front of an oval mirror. A Magritte image influenced at least one other pair of shoes by Schiaparelli. The Philadelphia shoemakers Laird Schober & Company created several extreme designs for the couturière, including a black silk high-heeled boot with toes outlined in stitching for spring 1939, which referenced Magritte’s image of a booted foot, Le Modele rouge (The Red Model). Magritte made three versions of the painting—one in 1935, one in 1936 for his first one-man show in New York (at the Julien Levy Gallery), and the last in 1953. Magritte explained the image in his 1938 lecture “La Ligne de vie” (The Lifeline), and his comments can be applied equally to Schiaparelli’s unusual boots: “The problem of the shoes demonstrates how far the most barbaric things can, through force of habit, come to be considered quite respectable. Thanks to ‘The Red model’, people can feel that the union of a human foot with a leather shoe is, in fact a monstrous custom.” Pierre Cardin, who briefly worked for Schiaparelli during the 1940s, developed Magritte’s concept into men’s shoes with molded toes in 1986. Dilys E. Blum, from Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli (2003), p. 143.