The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Spring 2012 exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, opens May 10. The exhibition revolves around an imagined conversation between two of fashion's most well known feminist designers, Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, as inspired by Miguel Covarrubias's satirical "Impossible Interviews" for Vanity Fair in the 1930's.
The 100 designs and 40 accessories by Schiaparelli from the late 20's into the early 50's, and by Prada from the late 80's to the present are organized into various sections. "Waist Up/Waist Down" looks at Schiparelli's use of decorative detailing inspired by 1930's cafe society and Prada's below-the-waist focus as a symbolic expression of modernity and feminity. "Neck Up/Knees Down" looks at Schiparelli's hat's and Prada's footwear. "Ugly Chic" shows the duo toying with beauty ideals through experiments in good and bad taste. "Hard Chic" looks at menswear and minimalist style applications on the idea of femininity. “Naïf Chic" explored age-approriate sensibilities through girlish fashion. "Classical Body" looks at both designer's Grecian inspiration on some of their pieces. "Exotic Body" explores Eastern cultures through things like saris and sarongs. Finally, "Surreal Body" shows both women introducing surrealism elements, for example through Schiaparreli's iconic 'tear' dress, 'shoe' hat, and 'bug' necklaces or through Prada's politicial science influence and eclectic nature.
Interspersed throughout the exhibit, a set of filmed elements directed by Baz Luhrmann exemplify a literal imagined conversation between Miuccia Prada (playing herself) and Elsa Schiaparreli (played by actress Judy Davis). The relaxed conversations between the two clearly portray a powerful duo and their thoughts on fashion bring insight into the creative process of two icons that have inspired countless women over the last hundred years.
Schiparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversation, opens to the public May 10, 2012, and runs through August 19, 2012 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The related 308-page catalogue Schiparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversation is distributed worldwide and is available for $45.
Also accompanying the exhibit are a set of talks. On Sunday, June 17, Judith Thurman moderates Good Taste/Bad Taste: The Evolution of Contemporary Chic, a discussion with style icon Iris Apfel and editor-in- chief of RookieMag.com Tavi Gevinson, on what it means to be chic in the 21st century.
On May 15, The College Group at the Met hosts a panel discussion, Defining Chic: Then & Now, moderated by Julie Gilhart (fashion consultant) with Francesca Granata (Assistant Professor of Fashion Studies, Parsons), Leandra Medine (The Man Repeller), Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist), and Lynn Yaeger (Vogue.com Contributing Editor) about the evolution of the term “chic,” followed by a reception, tours of the exhibition, and a workshop.
Please visit the The Met’s website for more information on the exhibition: www.metmuseum.org/impossibleconversations.