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Posted by on Jul 17, 2009 | 14 comments

A Good Read: Schiaparelli Shocking – the original Gaultier bottle

When John Paul Gaultier first came out with his line of “corset” perfumes, they looked all too familiar. That’s because two Elsa Schiaparelli bottles have sat on my dressing table since high school, passed on to me by my incredibly fashionable aunt.

As someone interested in design, I instantly fell in love with the dress forms the bottles were mimicking. If you look closely at the smaller bottle, there is actually a measuring tape, and seal underneath. The large bottle had been full of the signature scent Shocking. During a move, it opened, corroding the flowers and ruining the tape. Ah well, it is still lovely.

I love everything about these bottles. The beauty of the forms. The glass and enamel leaves and flowers. The embossed lace design. The velvet lining. The smaller bottle still has the stand, it is just not attached in the photo. The underside is shocking pink. They’ve got some wear because they were used, but they represent a time when beautiful detailing was crucial to packaging, not a project cost killer. Oh the thrill to touch the throat with the golden, glass stopper. This is part of the experience a simple spritz cannot match.

Schiaparelli was Coco Chanel’s biggest competitor, and was known for bringing fashion to the masses. After the war, her perfumes sold particularly well, but the downfall to her line was that it was easily copied. I don’t know if this is the case, but I’ll give Gaultier the benefit of the doubt and cast his line as a tribute.

If you’d like a good read, check out this designer who pushed the creative envelope for fashion. If you’re a fan, give Schiaparelli a shout out!

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  1. Katherine, you bring up a good point. I've never seen Schiaparelli referenced to Gaultier's bottles either. I think they were leaning/capitalizing on Madonna's cone bra at the time, but to me the influence is clear. Why bury such a wonderful talent?

    I would have love to seen the Ontario Surrealism exhibit! Thank you for letting us know they included this beautiful treasure.

  2. I just saw my first bottle of Shocking at the Art Gallery of Ontario Surrealism exhibit, and the shocking part for me was how I immediately thought of how close the Gaultier bottle was! (And also how I preferred Schiaparelli's).

    The part that dismays me is that I have never, ever seen anything in the news coverage on Gaultier's perfume & packaging referencing Schiaparelli. Do fashion writers just not know their history, or is there something else going on?

  3. I so agree! What are your favorites? And how did I ever miss your blog? I love it!

  4. You're so right, part of the experience of a good perfume is the beauty of having that little bottle sparking on your wardrobe or vanity desk top. These bottles are so original and unique!

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