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Damn Miuccia Prada. Damn her! Only someone of her surrealist imagination could actually have drinks with her deceased icon. How often I have wanted to break bread with F. Scott or the Duchess of Windsor and here she is, slapping me in the face with her bold videos chatting, laughing and toasting with Elsa Schiapparelli.
In the new exhibit at The Met, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, we get to see and hear a dialogue of two of the more out of the box designers from the industry. In the videos (directed by Baz Luhrman) actress Judy Davis portrays Schiap (as she was known to friends) and Prada of course plays herself. Davis pulls quotes from Schiap’s autobiography and Prada gives her own thoughts on the matters. It sounds kooky but totally works.
The show itself isn’t that large, much more manageable than McQueen. It compares the designers' similar themes and showcases some of the most iconic pieces from both women’s collections. The mutton hat, acrobat buttons and bug necklace were all fantastic pieces of Surrealist design we get to see up close. It was also great to see Prada displayed in such a way since frankly the companies image has become so over exposed and trendy to the fashion eye that to really inspect a shoe, a dress and an accessory in this context brings much more appreciation to the house.
Schiaparelli worked in Paris from the 20s until 1954 when her house closed (bonus fact, she is Marisa Berenson's grandmother). She was a major player in the Surrealist movement and worked closely with Dali on many products which are now extremely collectible (knockoffs available in the gift shop!). The curators have done a superb job alluding to the Surrealists in the last gallery where we can see full outfits on mannequins with video installations behind them that move only slightly. One model’s eyes flutter, another’s dress sways in the breeze. In my moment of peaceful appreciation I was nudged in the ribs by an older lady who whispered, “Am I loosing my mind or did that picture wink at me?” Schiap would be pleased.
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations on view until August 19th.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art