Meryle Secrest, Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography
In the late 1930s, Schiaparelli dressed as a surrealist tree for a costume ball also attended by Chanel. According to Horst, Chanel typically refused to so much as utter her rival's name. Yet, on this occasion, Chanel asked Schiaparelli to dance with her. Alas, it was not to initiate a truce. Chanel intentionally steered Schiaparelli's flammable costume into a lighted candelabra. Schiaparelli caught fire, but it was quickly put out with soda water. The contretemps was Topic A in Paris for the next few days, but like much gossip, it soon was buried by more substantive matters—in this case, Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland.