A music themed dress and matching gloves from Schiaparelli’s Fall-Winter 1939 collection.


1995.10a-b 0002

Irony is typically associated with the literary and oral; I intend to explore visual irony, specifically within Surrealist fashion, where puns are conceived and presented as optical double entendres, adding layers of meaning to deceptively simple forms. Inconsistencies between expectations and realizations of fashion are often humorously absurd– but what initially seems silly can effectively question functionality, gender, art history, politics and social standards. The Surrealists were, after all, affiliated with the French Communist Party (before they were kicked out!), but their focus was on an emotional revolution that they believed would achieve the same ends as a strictly economic one would.

Elsa Schiaparelli was the first and arguably the most influential designer to explore irony in dress, collaborating frequently with fellow Surrealists Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, and Man Ray. Following the tenets of Surrealism such as the banishment of false rationality and restrictive customs and structures, she conflated tropes of music, optical illusion, classic statuary and traditional fashion, deliberately presenting incongruity and discordance.

Yves Saint Laurent


by irving penn



Yves Saint Laurent photographed by Jeanloup Sieff, 1971.


Yves Saint Laurent by Andy Warhol


I guess it’s fair to say: Coco Chanel gave women freedom,

Yves Saint Laurent gave women power.



Le smoking originale. 1966.


Yves Saint Laurent “Mondrian” dress


Yves Saint Laurent, 1963.


Yves Saint Laurent, 1962

Claudia Schiffer

Yves Saint Laurent at the Finale of Yves Saint Laurent s/s 1997 with Claudia Schiffer



By the 1830s, Beau Brummell’s influence had been gone 10 years, and the Prince Regent, now the late King George IV is quickly forgotten. Black neck-wear has become the standard, full and skirted frock coats have become fashionable, and hessian riding boots have given way to shoes. Breeches are now a fashion faux pas and a new wave of revealing tight pants set the tone for the next twenty years.