They didn't like each other: Coco Chanel vs. Elsa Schiapparelli - the great war of fashion designers!
That's how the Yellow Press would head today.
And yet it is true: both women - each a successful "career woman" in their own right, were not green to each other.
It certainly sounds nice when Coco Chanel invited the competitor Elsa Schiaparelli to dinner. But since the chair was painted with fresh white paint before, which ruined Elsa's evening gown, this is really less nice - actually a very nasty prank!
All I'm saying is, "Women!"
Both lived in the Paris of the 20s and 30s. And you would think the city and the clientele would have been big enough to ensure both success and livelihood.
Especially because their creations did not or only rarely correspond to the taste of the customers of the others.
Here: Coco Chanel with her elegant, glamorous and classic designs; often quite amusing, like her own, almost boyish appearance.
And there: Elsa Schiapparelli, who dressed some Hollywood stars (e.g. Marlene Dietrich). Their fashion, on the other hand, was avangardistic, often exaggeratedly eccentric, unusual and yet fresh.
Contrary also the origin:
Coco - Gabrielle Bonheur Chasnel - from illegitimate birth, grew up in an orphanage.
The Roman Elsa Schiaparelli, on the other hand, spent her childhood in a Renaissance palace in a circle of intellectual families.
She married a Swiss count later; but the two separated again quite quickly.
Later she was forced to earn her living with her sweater models. Especially the famous little black one with a big white ribbon at the collar (knitted in the same way as the rest of the sweater) is of great interest.
For the first time in 1935 she presented her own collection in her new salon opposite the Parisian Ritz.
(In this hotel Coco Chanel was a permanent guest; initially because she had made her villa available free of charge to the family of her then lover Igor Stravinsky, whose upkeep she also paid for.)
Even then her creations were Elsa Schiaparellis explosions of fantasy and colour.
Now that she was friends with Salvador Dalì and Jean Cocteau, this is not surprising.
Even today her models can be admired in every exhibition; mostly in arts and crafts museums.
And so it is inevitable that in 1937, at the height of their fame, the perfume "Shocking" will delight women, not only in Europe. That scent was a true globetrotter.
Elsa likes in itself heavy and persistent scents that spectacular she does not repel - quite the opposite.
Therefore the bottle has the shape of a naked bust; the neck of the bottle is embraced by a centimeter and a gilded brooch with pink and white flowers represents its "headgear": just "Shocking"!
My memory of "Shocking" goes back to the beginning of the 70s: back then, a little more than a teenager, I started to be interested in more than the usual young girlish scents.
My mother had surprised me - more or less by chance - with known scents; now I wanted to discover them myself.
And I remember that I first liked "Shocking" at that time the packaging; at Woolworth in the "big shopping mall", on one of the corresponding tables, for, believe it or not, 19.95 DM!
at that time
That an almost elf-like dainty young girl was completely overtaxed with this force of scent didn't interest me at all at that time.
We pronounced the name as it is written, but "Shocking": we knew and knew that and shocked: that's what we wanted!
"Shocking" is now really neither created for young girls nor for shy women!
The prelude by the radiant force of the aldehydes, paired with bergamot and - amazing, but really true! - Tarragon, arouses the interest.
A classic floral chord of rose, jasmine, narcissus (and I think I also perceive gardenia) joins and is completed by a creamy honey note and the ever-present glow of ylang-ylang.
Already so far it is not a fragrance composition for respectable "higher daughters"!
The warm and sensual notes of amber, civet and musk form a strong, slightly animalistic basis.
Patchouli and vetiver oil counteract this with fruitiness and a certain tingling sensation.
All this is rounded off by a strong nuance of carnation and equally aromatic sandalwood.
Shocking" really uses everything that would associate "Lieschen Müller" with a scandalous scent.
This is what makes this fragrance composition so unique, almost pompous - simply "shocking"!
After all here still another word about Sillage and durability to lose, is really superfluous.
Here, too, the highest expectations are met. Elsa Schiaparelli doesn't do half things here either.
(However, I can only speak of the vintage version of which I recently got some drops!)
Again and again I like to look at the first advertising poster: the lettering "Shocking" de Schiaparelli - elegantly and swinging spread over the page.
Here a girl dances, only with a red turban, a red ribbon around her neck and of course a red cloth around her hips, a wild round dance with a smiling little devil.
(And how the little guy grins!) Also the girl's lipstick is red, as is the ribbon that connects her to the little devil!
The "Shocking" bottle is cheekily peeping out of the cloth at the back, where it is tied.
This entertaining and cheerful poster would surely attract a lot of attention even today.
Even if here not some half-naked too thin "star of the day" is shown.
That my memory of "Shocking", of course refreshed by appropriate reading and these few drops of scent, is still so alive after almost fifty years, speaks for the tremendous impression that this force of scent nevertheless left on me young woman.
By the way, I soon switched to a "more age-appropriate" fragrance (I think it was "Blue Grass" by Elizabeth Arden).
As I recall, much to my mother's relief. Even then, she thought I was causing too much fuss.
It's a good thing she doesn't have to see me again today
All we have to do is say "Shocking"!!!