Celebrating Schiaparelli and Chanel: UK Exhibition Showcases Bronze Statues of Iconic Designers

The latest exhibition at Gray M.C.A, located at Cromwell Place, features the remarkable work of acclaimed sculptor Robyn Neild. This captivating showcase pays homage to the influential careers of fashion icons Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, tracing their journey from early rivalry to enduring legacy.

Visitors can admire 40 unique bronze sculptures representing celebrated designs from 1926 to the present.

Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli revolutionized women’s fashion with their groundbreaking and provocative designs. Chanel’s creations liberated women from the constraints of corsetry. At the same time, Schiaparelli’s daring surrealism echoed women’s intellectualism and humour, challenging traditional notions of femininity.

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During the 1920s and 30s, these designers infused their bold personalities and perspectives on women’s societal roles into their designs. Despite being notorious rivals, humorously referring to each other as ‘The Italian’ and ‘The Milliner,’ their collective impact has inspired generations of fashion designers.

Robyn Neild’s artistic journey began with a Fashion Design degree from London’s Middlesex University, leading to a career as a fashion illustrator for esteemed magazines such as Vogue & Glamour. Her relocation to the Kent coast and collaboration with a foundry marked a shift towards three-dimensional art, focusing on the body as a narrative vessel and an art object.

Neild’s background in Fashion Design, particularly in couture draping, unveiled the hidden intricacies of garment construction. Her sculptural work retains this meticulous approach, often integrating natural elements to replicate haute couture’s lavish embellishments.

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Sculptor Robyn Neil notes, “Chanel’s fluid lines, often richly adorned, reflect the brand’s mastery in craftsmanship.”

She aims to capture the subtle textural nuances in her bronze castings, reflecting the garment techniques that shape and enhance the figure.

“Schiaparelli’s bold vision employs the body as a canvas, crafting exaggerated silhouettes with sculptural and architectural elements. Her use of trompe-l’oeil and unconventional twists provides an exhilarating challenge for my sculptural practice.”

This exhibition not only celebrates the historical impact of these fashion legends but also showcases the intricate artistry of Robyn Neild in immortalizing their legacy in bronze.

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