May 11, 2012

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations

T-Shirt and Shoe Ornament by Prada

Yesterday I went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the new Schiaparelli and Prada exhibit. It was such a wonder to see two intelligent, progressive, and Italian female minds collaborate and synchronize despite the decades that separate them. As you first enter the exhibit, a film plays that sets the stage for the rest of your journey. The title Impossible Conversations is to be taken literally as Miuccia and Elsa (played by Judy Davis) talk casually about their histories and philosophies. Elsa Schiaparelli passed away in 1973 of course, making the pairing physically impossible, but it is also unbelievable just how well their designs match when the clothes are separated by more than 65 years. Jackets made in the 1930s melt into skirts fabricated in our time to create a seamless match that had me scratching my head. It was as if Schiaparelli and Prada had designed for the same collections. You can see it in the prints and trims as well as the proportions and sensibility in the clothing designed ultimately by and for Italian women. One of my favorite conversations to watch was the discussion of whether or not fashion is an art; Schiaparelli says that it is with conviction, while Prada believes fashion to be a business first. I think that fashion is an art, but Miuccia's point about clothing being designed to sell has merit. She goes on to say that even "art" isn't art and that no one should really care. I think this means that art is what you want or need it to be and that for her personally it is mainly her livelihood. Whatever her stance may be, it is undeniable that Miuccia Prada is a visionary, sharing Elsa Schiaparelli's design sense in pushing boundaries for womenswear in a timeless and artful modern way.
If you are looking for the grandeur of the McQueen exhibit, be prepared to feel a little stunted. This exhibit is nowhere near as large or thorough, but it is still impressive. I recommend setting time aside to really watch each of the conversations, directed by none other than Baz Luhrmann. Don't miss out on the moving pictures in the last room! The gift shop does not disappoint for the exhibit. Pictured above is the very charming Prada Flame shoe ornament. Everyone was in a panic over the Mcqueen shoe, but I saw a surplus for both exhibits so don't worry. The book is a great read as well. Inside the cloth bound text contains the transcribed conversations between Schiaparelli and Prada and excellent photographs of the curated pieces, intimate close ups of the textiles and patterns, and original editorials from the 1930s. If you are Asian have OCD like me, ask for a new copy still wrapped in plastic because the cover is a bit delicate and I saw a few with scratches and hand prints. Jewelry, scarves, and nylon handbags from various iconic Prada collections are also available. I have my eye on the foulard with the James Jean prints from the fairy collection!! - jerome


  1. Great article! I will be checking out that exhibit when i arrive. I especially am interested in the question what is art.

  2. i cant wait till you get here, p!!

    - jerome