Recent Updates: The New School has released its academic plan for 2020-21 and a phased reopening plan for its New York campus. Please check the Parsons Paris website for information about our Paris campus. Learn more.

  • Alexandra Grant

  • “La femme n’existe pas”: Elsa Schiaparelli, Claude Cahun, and Feminine Body-Identity

    Fashion Studies (MA)

    Advising
    Elsa Schiaparelli and Claude Cahun have been continuously under-examined in the context of Surrealism and Feminism. Although these two figures lived extremely different lives, each echoed the other in their work, creating similarities that should be explored. Both Cahun and Schiaparelli’s creations — for Schiaparelli, primarily fashion designs, and for Cahun, writing and photographs — speak to the grotesque and uncanny female body. Themes and images appear again and again in their work in startling patterns that call to mind many theorists’ writings on feminine body-identity, the uncanny Other of womanliness, and perhaps most importantly, the re-appropriation of power through images. Schiaparelli and Cahun’s work adds to the dialogue on self and the “masquerade of womanliness”; their work highlights the ever-present struggle and triumph of the embodied Other. This thesis explores the work of Schiaparelli and Cahun in tandem, working through themes of feminisms and body-identity to further the academic conversation about their art. Both figures wrote and worked with the body in mind, teasing the viewer with surreal illusions. In this way, their work becomes an exploration of self and presentation, a self-reflexive dialogue on power and body politics.
  • Program Details

    Inspired by this work? Explore program features, curriculum, faculty, and more.

  • Related Work

    • Dani Witkus

      Queering the Exchange: Transgender Clothing Swaps and Identity Formation
    • Mahsa Goodarzi

      Uncharted Waters of Fashion: The Case of Iranian Stylists
    • Neal Bauer

      Sukajan: Transnational Transformations of a Cultural Souvenir
  • Take The Next Step

Submit your application

Undergraduates

To apply to any of our undergraduate programs (except the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students and Parsons Associate of Applied Science programs) complete and submit the Common App online.

Undergraduate Adult Learners

To apply to any of our Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students and Parsons Associate of Applied Science programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.

Graduates

To apply to any of our Master's, Doctoral, Professional Studies Diploma, and Graduate Certificate programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.

Close