How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesS

Summer's coming. Couldn't you stand to have some whimsical sunglasses in your life?

In honor of the Met's new Costume Institute show, "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations," I set about finding a DIY project inspired by the late, great Italian designer. (I've already done one inspired by Prada.) Elsa Schiaparelli was known for her eclecticism and references to (and collaborations with) contemporary artists. She moved in Surrealist circles and collaborated numerous times with her friend Salvador Dalí. Schiaparelli was up on all the newfangled technologies, like zippers, and she had a love for nontraditional design elements. She mixed the mundane with the luxurious in ways that remain surprising — like an embroidered evening jacket whose buttons looked like locusts, a gown where the metal zipper was the focal point, and not something to hide under a lapped seam, or a day dress made from a fabric printed with images of seed packets. She was witty, but she was also making an argument for enlarging the culture's definition of beauty in clothing and of what counted as high-end. She also made some really bad-ass sunglasses, which this week I decided to replicate. Here's how you can, too. This project is fun — and the best part is, it's easier than saying "Surrealist Schiaparelli sunglasses" three times quickly.


How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesS

These beauties, which Schiaparelli made during the '40s and '50s, are the kinds of glasses I'm talking about. You can see more examples here. These will be our inspiration. Click any photo to enlarge.


How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSFor this project, you'll need: 1) A pair of cat-eye style sunglasses. 2) A variety of beads in complimentary colors (for the 3-D flowers, look for beads made of fimo or modeling clay — or make and bake your own). You'll also need a hot glue gun or some other glue of your choice (not pictured).
How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSYou probably have gathered that this project but one real "step": taking the beads and gluing them onto the sunglass frames. To get a bead design that you like, play around until you hit upon a pleasing bead configuration that will suit the cat-eye frames. Lay your pattern out while your glue gun heats up.
How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSThen lay out a pattern for the arms of the glasses.
How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSStart with the arms to practice your glue technique, because any mistakes there will be less noticeable. Hot glue is a pretty forgiving medium — if you do get a blob of glue in the wrong place, just wait 'til it dries and scrape it off the frames. Working quickly and alternating from arm to arm to keep the bead spacing even, dab the backs of the beads with the glue and press them firmly into position.
How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSWhen finished, your arms should look something like this.
How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSThen start with the front. Place the largest, most eye-catching bead first, and then work inwards, bead by bead as before.
How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSHere's the end result.
How To Make Surrealist Schiaparelli SunglassesSI just had to put on coral lipstick to match my new coral pseudo-Schiap sunnies. Summer can't come fast enough, as far as I'm concerned. I'm such a dork that I'll probably wear these to the Met this weekend to see the show.

"Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" is open at the Met through August 19. If there's something you'd like to see as a DIY project, you know what to do. In the meantime, to check out past DIYs:

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