First Looks: The Met’s Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations Exhibit

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HRRPRD9845-11 001 Photo: HARARI GUIDO

Not to be forgotten amidst all the Oscars hubbub, designer-swapping, and fall collections is the Costume Institute’s forthcoming exhibit, “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.” Meant to portray the correlations between the two iconic designers — who lived in entirely different eras but explored similar themes in their work — the show will focus on seven specific subjects that both women addressed in their clothing collections. Each subject will be the subject of a fictional “conversation” between the two women, as imagined (and simulated through cinematographic hoodoo) by film director Baz Luhrmann. 

According to a recent press release from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, these are the aforementioned subjects:

“Waist Up/Waist Down” will look at Schiaparelli’s use of decorative detailing as a response to restaurant dressing in the heyday of 1930s café society, while showing Prada’s below-the-waist focus as a symbolic expression of modernity and femininity. An accessories subsection of this gallery called “Neck Up/Knees Down” will showcase Schiaparelli’s hats and Prada’s footwear.

“Ugly Chic” will reveal how both women subvert ideals of beauty and glamour by playing with good and bad taste through color, prints, and textiles.

“Hard Chic” will explore the influence of uniforms and menswear to promote a minimal aesthetic that is intended to both deny and enhance femininity.

“Naïf Chic” will focus on Schiaparelli and Prada’s adoption of a girlish sensibility to subvert expectations of age-appropriate dressing.

“The Classical Body,” which also incorporates “The Pagan Body,” explores the designers’ engagement with antiquity through the gaze of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

“The Exotic Body” will explore the influence of Eastern cultures through fabrics such as lamé, and silhouettes such as saris and sarongs.

“The Surreal Body” in the final gallery will illustrate how both women affect contemporary images of the female body through Surrealistic practices such as displacement, playing with scale, and blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion as well as the natural and the artificial.

This all definitely sounds a little heady, but Elsa and Miuccia wouldn’t have it any other way, right? You can see a preview of these topics in our slideshow.

Related:
Confirmed: Next Year’s Met Costume Institute Exhibit Will Be ‘Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada: On Fashion’
Miuccia Prada Is Already Dissatisfied With Her Met Costume Institute Exhibit [Updated]

 

Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada

Left: George Hoyningen-Huené (Russian, 1900–1968), Portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli, 1932. Hoyningen-Huené/Vogue/Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast. Right: Guido Harari (Italian, born Cairo, 1952), Portrait of Miuccia Prada, 1999. Guido Harari/Contrasto/Redux.

Waist Up/Waist Down

Left: Miuccia Prada, spring/summer 2011. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © David Sims, Right:  Wallis Simpson in Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, June 1, 1937.Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton, Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.

Waist Up/Waist Down

Left: Miuccia Prada, spring/summer 2005. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © Toby McFarlan Pond. Right: Diana Vreeland in Elsa Schiaparelli, Harper’s Bazaar, April 1937. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Louise Dahl-Wolfe Archive / © 2012 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Waist Up/Waist Down

Left: Miuccia Prada, spring/summer 1999. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © Toby McFarlan Pond Right: Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, September 15, 1938 Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Horst Horst / Vogue; © Condé Nast

Ugly Chic

Left: Miuccia Prada, autumn/winter 1996–97. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © Toby McFarlan Pond.  Right: Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue Paris, February 1927. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by George Hoyningen-Huené. © R.J. Horst. 

Naïf Chic

Left:  Miuccia Prada, spring/summer 2006. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © Toby McFarlan Pond. Right: Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue Paris, June 1949. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Rutledge. Rutledge @ Vogue Paris.

The Classical Body

Left: Miuccia Prada, autumn/winter 2004–5. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © Toby McFarlan Pond Right:  Elsa Schiaparelli in Elsa Schiaparelli, autumn 1931. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Man Ray.© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

The Exotic Body

Left: Miuccia Prada, spring/summer 2004. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © Toby McFarlan Pond. Right:  Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, June 1, 1935. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Horst. Horst / Vogue; © Condé Nast.

The Surreal Body

Left:  Miuccia Prada, autumn/winter 2002–3. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © David Sims. Right: Elsa Schiaparelli, Harper’s Bazaar, February 1935. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by André Durst Harper’s Bazaar/Hearst Communications, Inc.

The Surreal Body

Left:  Miuccia Prada, spring/summer 2000. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by © David Sims. Right:  Wallis Simpson in Elsa Schiaparelli, British Vogue, July 10, 1935. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton. Cecil Beaton / Vogue © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd.

First Looks: The Met’s Schiaparelli and Prada