The next Met Exhibition will be Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada!

12 October 2011

Elsa Schiaparelli fashion designerdress by Schiaparelli

The Costume Institute exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is well known to fans of glamour and fashion the world over. It’s at the biggest fashion museum in New York and was the venue for the auspicious ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibition which ended earlier this year, having broken all box office records, and the host for Anna Wintour’s legendary annual shindig – The Met Ball.  Now it is turning its sights on not one but TWO designers for 2012 – in a project entitled ‘Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada: On Fashion

Miuccia Prada

What? Were you expecting a design duo in the style of Viktor and Rolf or Dolce & Gabbana? Well you’d have been wrong. Rather than a pair who worked together or directly influenced each other, the Met has chosen the two designers who come from completely different eras, yet who seem to have parallels in their work. Both Italian, both female and both with a singular aesthetic taste which allowed them to break down barriers of the status quo of the time, thus drastically moving the trends of the time forward.  

Currently the infamous site of fashion surrealism, the House of Schiaparelli, is closed for business, although from time to time the fashion rumour mill (how we love it) cranks out a titbit that it might be dusted down and re-launched, with someone like the Rodarte sisters at the helm, although nothing official has been said. Her best-selling perfume and her autobiography were both called ‘Shocking’! and she generally lived up to this motto by collaborating with the likes of Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau on all manner of crazy surreal lobster fashion and hats made of shoes – you know the type of thing!

In the words of Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute, who is putting together the show with curator Andrew Bolton there are ‘significant resonances’ between the two designers’ work. ‘They are both very provocative for their time,’ Koda said. ‘We thought it would be very interesting to pit these two women together in an anachronistic conversation.’

Elsa Schiaparelli

To come up with a context in which the designers could have said conversation, (Schiaparelli of course, having died in 1973) they turned to a series from Thirties editions of the magazine Vanity Fair “Impossible Interviews, in order to create conversations between Schiaparelli and Prada by juxtaposing their viewpoints on several topics. The individual exhibition galleries on the museum’s first floor will feature such themes as “On Art,” “On Politics,” “On Women,” and “On Creativity.”

‘We thought, if we can play with that idea of what Schiap would say, with her real words, and what Miuccia would say, in her real words, on a variety of issues, we could end up with something that was a mind-teaser for the audience, and would allow people to see Schiap with increased relevance and Miuccia with a different kind of understanding than they perhaps already have. We want it to be serious in content but playful in its approach,’ said Mr Koda.

Wow! That sounds pretty conceptual! What else can we say about the subject? Oh yes. The party will be held on May 7th in New York, with Carey Mulligan, Miuccia Prada and Anna Wintour serving as the co-hosts.

- Naomi Attwood


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