n°20/ The Lobster and The Divorcee

May 2012

by Nathalie Azoulai

In 1936, Salvador Dali designed the Lobster telephone. By spring 1937, Italian fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli asked him to design a lobster as a decoration for a white organdy evening gown. And the dress was made famous when it  appeared in Vogue magazine modeled by Wallis Simpson.  As an American Divorcee, Simpson gained notoriety when the Duke of Windsor chose to marry her in 1936 rather than become King of England.  
The oversized lobster on this dress is strangely out of place on such a romantic and feminine gown. The odd juxtaposition between evening gown and sea creature was certainly not an accident. Many of Schiaparelli’s designs were both shocking and humorous. No wonder Lady Gaga enjoyed wearing a giant lobster on her head. Did Schiaprelli by any chance want to rewrite in her own and unjudgemental way some scarlett letter?
By the way, don't forget to visit the New York MET exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: impossible conversation, running from May 10th to August 19th.



Elsa Schiaparelli