Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel.
What could they possibly have to talk about?
Both were successful women in the male hierarchy of Paris couture.
Both created clothing inspired by the roles women were beginning to play in the workplace and in the world- and they did it better than the men. But their idea of what clothing was- and what it could be- differed greatly.
Chanel was a practical, laser-focused worker and an astute observer of the world around her. Schiaparelli, though also focused and determined, could not suppress a soul that yearned for fantasy.
Both women were hugely successful at the same time. They ran in the same social circles, but appeared to be as different as fire and ice. Their celebrated public rivalry was often bitter- Chanel referring to Schiaparelli as “that Italian artist who is making clothes”, and Schiaparelli referring to Chanel simply as “that milliner”.
Both women survived two world wars. Both ran houses of haute couture in Paris.
Both even dressed the enigmatic Gala Dali.
But the ways in which these two extraordinary women navigated their worlds of couture were as much at odds as were their backgrounds;
Chanel, an impoverished, abandoned child raised by nuns, and Schiaparelli, born in to an aristocratic class that she rebelled against.
Chanel, a studied seamstress and skilled milliner, and Schiaparelli, a dabbler in many things artistic who seemed to fall in to fashion design. One woman with her feet firmly on the ground, one with her head in the stars.
It would be easy to imagine a conversation between them to be a tete-a-tete; a delicious cat-fight. For me, there are too many connections to believe it would be only this. There are too many possibilities- too many hidden hallways between these two women- and I wanted to explore them.
FABRICATION is a work of fiction. While based strongly in research and close to the facts, the conversation is purely one of my own longing. Longing for that connection between two artists (for Chanel, though she may balk at the word, was an artist).
Two artists whose lives were too closely knit to escape each other, try as they may. This is a story of shared genius, of survival and, ultimately, of respect and deep love.
I hope you enjoy this surreal conversation.