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Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations


Continuing on from my previous post, where I spoke about the recent event, the Met Gala that celebrated the opening of the “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in which the exhibition has finally opened its doors to the public yesterday morning. As the public made their way through to the exhibition halls, there they were, two Italian women sitting across from each other at a dining hall table, drinking champagne and discussing fashion, art, the past, present and future and revealing personal snap shots into their lives. These two women were none other than the Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian designers who although come from different eras and though have never met eye-to-eye, somehow they can be put together where a parallel can be drawn to show similarities in their work but as well as their personalities and views on life. "Juxtaposing the work of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada allows us to explore how the past enlightens the present and how the present enlivens the past," said Harold Koda, curator in charge of The Costume Institute. And Koda could not say it any better, as this exhibition exactly demonstrates this. However do not be fooled by these women engaged in this conversation as the short film is directed by the filmmaker Baz Luhrmann with Prada playing herself and Schiaparelli embodied by actress Judy Davis which takes quotes from the designer's autobiography ‘Shocking Life’ to create an illusion that these two designers have met and now are drinking champagne together. Why else would the exhibition be called “Impossible Conversations”?

The exhibition holds Schiaparelli’s work from the late Twenties to the Fifties, and Prada’s work from the late Eighties to present day in which the exhibition is organised into seven galleries and one subsection gallery that explores different themes that are used in both of the designers work. These themes include “Waist Up/Waist Down” that looks at Schiaparelli’s decorative detailing of the upper body contrasted with Prada’s below-the-waist attention as well as the subsidiary gallery called “Neck Up/Knees Down” which showcases Schiaparelli’s love of hats and Prada’s fascination with footwear. As well as "Ugly Chic,” which looks at how good and bad taste in colour, prints and textiles subverts the idea of beauty and glamour. "Hard Chic" which explores the use and influence of uniforms and menswear to endorse a minimal aesthetic and "Naïf Chic" that focuses on Schiaparelli’s and Prada’s overthrow of the idea of age-appropriate dressing. And lastly how the designers physical work interacts with the human form is explored in "Classical Body," "Exotic Body," and "Surreal Body".

With each gallery demonstrating these themes as well as the short film, the exhibition sheds light on the psychology that guided each of these women's métiers and creates a fantastic, visually pleasing but also thought-provoking exhibition. For me, this is exactly the type of exhibition that I love as it showcases my beloved Miuccia Prada and her outstanding work as well as brings in history so we can learn more about how the past has influenced present day but also to look at some amazing garments up close! Unfortunately for me, I will not be able to attend, yet again another great exhibition (if you had only seen me last year when hearing about McQueen: Savage Beauty and how I was unable to attend. All I will say is drama definitely kicked off in my house!) But if you’re in the same position as me, here is the first part to the eight-part film for “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” which I found to be inspiring, engaging but also slightly amusing in which I hope you also enjoy as much as I did. And you may be thinking this exhibition will soon bypass and people may forget who Schiaparelli even was, will think again. As the Schiaparelli label is set to relaunch next February which will focus on all of the great fashion buys; accessories, fragrance, cosmetics and of course, clothing. A creative director has not yet been announced but rumours are already starting that we may also see the return of John Galliano. Just as the long-awaited appointment of Raf Simons as the new creative director for Dior that has only just been recently announced, the fashion industry is once again been put in another period of speculations, rumours and anticipation! But in the meantime, enjoy this short film and photographs from the exhibition.

Photographs courtsey of models.com

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