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Elsa Schiaparelli is not a woman to mince words, if her "12 Commandments for Women" are anything to go by. In her autobiography, Shocking Life, which she published in 1954 just as she was closing up her famed shop on the Place Vendôme in Paris, she concludes with a list of guidelines she gleaned from her career. Read on to be alternately intimidated and intrigued by the imperious fashion genius.
1. Since most women do not know themselves, they should try to do so.
2. A woman who buys an expensive dress and changes it, often with disastrous result, is extravagant and foolish.
3. Most women (and men) are colour-blind. They should ask for suggestions.
4. Remember, 20 percent of women have inferiority complexes, 70 percent have illusions.
5. Ninety percent are afraid of being conspicuous, and of what people will say. So they buy a gray suit. They should dare to be different.
6. Women should listen and ask for competent criticism and advice.
7. They should choose their clothes alone or in the company of a man.
8. They should never shop with another woman, who sometimes consciously, and often unconsciously, is apt to be jealous.
9. She should buy little and only of the best or the cheapest.
10. Never fit a dress to the body, but train the body to fit the dress.
11. A woman should buy mostly in one place where she is known and respected, and not rush around trying every new fad.
12. And she should pay her bills.