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Monday, May 7, 2012

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations

One of my biggest pleasures as a fashion reporter is the privilege of being able to preview the retrospectives of my fashion heroes.  In this case, it was the gorgeous exhibit of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. 
The Metropolitan Museum show is a celebration of two powerhouse women.  Baz Luhrman and Catherine Martin (the team behind movies like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Moulin Rouge) put together a series of stylish interviews imagining conversations between the fashion pioneers.  Throughout the exhibit, you can watch the designers discuss their experiences, their muse and the world around them throughout their career. 

Much like the MOMA’s exhibit of Picasso and Matisse a few years back, the show her presents both designer’s work side by side to show how similar influences were translated into clothing, or how Schiaparelli might have influenced Prada. 

At the same time, the exhibit also compares how the different eras influenced the designers differently.  For Elsa, her time period was all about focusing excitement from the waist up.  Her most noteworthy accessories included hats and wigs, elaborate fur/feather collars, jackets with heavy embellishment on the chest.  For Miuccia, she focused from the waist down, with graphic prints on skirts and amazing footwear.

Elsa Schiaparelli was an artist’s designer.  She was known for bringing surrealism into her work.  She was famous for her “shocking pink”, fanciful circus motifs and trompe l’oeil effects like printed rips.  Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau were an influence.  Cocteau’s lip illustration became embroidery on a Schiaparelli gown, and a pocket detail on another.  The lips motif also inspired Miuccia Prada’s collection in silk prints. 

This is a show not to be missed!

The exhibit will run from May 10, 2012 - August 19th, 2012 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Photos by Mariana Leung

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