The Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute’s new exhibition focuses on two icons of classic design separated by disparate eras: The late Elsa Schiaparelli, creator of the ‘Tear’ dress and associate of the Surrealist movement, and Muiccia Prada, a politics graduate whose coveted Postmodernist creations are made for women’s brains – not their bodies.
Their collaborative exhibition: Schiaparelli and Prada – Impossible Conversations, comprises of signature pieces which are divided into seven themed galleries, including Hard Chic and The Surreal Body. The designers’ ensembles are collated and video installations are included which depict simulated conversations between the women with a view to highlight similitudes and contradictions in their work.
Accompanying the exhibition is a photographic book of the same name, which enriches the narrative of the show by including a miniature booklet connecting the designers generational disparity. Photographs, articles and quotes intimate additional ‘impossible conversations’ between them.
The exhibit and book not only illustrate an interdependence between the historic and the contemporary, but they also provide a delightful glimpse into the agency of two dissenters who have consistently undermined conventional edicts of elegance and sophistication in all of their staid, and unimaginative manifestations by creating an alternate, yet beautiful array of fresh palettes and concepts.
Schiaparelli and Prada – Impossible Conversations is showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute in New York until 19 August 2012.
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Words by Dawn Daniels