Sep 4, 2007

Elsa Schiaparelli's Connection to Psycho, Barry Lyndon, Legally Blonde, and 9-11

You don't hear her name bandied about much any more, but Elsa Schiaparelli's fashions were influential during the first half of the 20th century and quite unforgettable. According to Wikipedia, "Schiaparelli was the first to use shoulder pads, animal print fabrics (in 1947), and zippers dyed the same colors as the fabrics. She is also well known for her surrealist designs of the 1930s, especially her hats, including the DalĂ­ design resembling a giant shoe and one a giant lamb chop." Her use of shocking pink was outrageous and extraordinary, but when one studies her designs up close one sees perfect lines and proportions. A woman looked and felt good in Elsa's clothes.

To later generations, Elsa became known as Marisa Berenson's maternal grandmother.

Marisa first began her career as a high fashion model, and later acted woodenly opposite an equally leaden-faced Ryan O'Neal in Barry Lyndon. Marisa famously was one of the black clad bridesmaids in Liza Minelli's wedding, which is the last time I caught a public glimpse of her. Perhaps she is still hiding.
Her sister, Berry, married Tony Perkins of Pscycho fame. Their son, Oz, played one of the Harvard geeks in Legally Blonde.

Sadly, Berry Berenson, also a former actress and model, was a passenger on the first plane that flew into the World Trade Center on 9-11 almost six years ago. She was returning to California after vacationing in Cape Cod. May she, and the thousands of others who died violently that day, rest in peace.

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