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FULL CIRCLE: To mark the relaunch of the dormant Schiaparelli fashion house this season and a sale of Elsa Schiaparelli’s personal effects on Jan. 23, Hubert de Givenchy and Marisa Berenson led a round table discussion at Christie’s Paris Tuesday evening to reminisce about the “myth and reality” of the late designer, the latter’s grandmother.
De Givenchy recalled Schiaparelli’s “originality and audacity,” describing “a tall lady with her booties, her suit, her hats and her jewelry” and remembering his four years at her house in the post-war period as a “happy” time.
When de Givenchy announced that he was leaving the house to set up his own business, “she was grumpy and furious, and told me ‘you will go bankrupt,’” he said.
“It was a time when nobody believed in couture,” de Givenchy continued, describing Schiaparelli as a definite influence on his own work and that of Yves Saint Laurent. “She was very modern.”
Berenson, wearing an embroidered jacket designed by her grandmother, told how her protective relative had disapproved strongly of her choice to become a model — and her fashion choices in the Sixties and Seventies.
“She wanted to protect me, and didn’t want me to have the difficult life that she had. It was difficult to be a single woman at the time, and she was scared,” said Berenson.
She continued, “She told me: ‘You cannot go out dressed like that; you look like a hooker.’”
Later, Berenson explained, she discovered that a proud Schiaparelli had in fact secretly cut out images of her model granddaughter from magazines of the time and hoarded them.