23 July 2012

The Exhibit at The Met

It's that time of year again.

It's when I trek to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to visit the Costume Institute's exhibition.

This year, it puts two Italian female designers front and center: Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. 

courtesy of Models.com via the shades and scarf
It begins in a dark room. A few benches invite you to sit and view a short film directed by Baz Luhrmann: In a fancy dining room, two women are in deep conversation. The woman on the left is Miss Schiaparelli, and the lady on the right is Miss Prada. They talk about their beginnings as designers, and their views on design. Miss Schiaparelli is feisty, while Miss Prada is reserved.

Here, I slowly understand why the show is called, "Schiaparelli-Prada: Impossible Conversations".  This "girl talk" would never have happened {at least not in the current time} because Miss Schiaparelli passed away in 1973. She is played by actor Judy Davis, with her actual words lifted from Miss Schiaparelli's biography, "Shocking Life." Miss Prada is played by the real Miss Miuccia Prada who is still at the peak of her career.

Later in the exhibit, I find out that Miss Schiaparelli hated talking to designers, and Miss Prada rarely talks about fashion with other people. I wonder, though, if they ever met?

So kudos to the Costume Institute for making this fictional exchange highly believable, engaging, and impressive as it follows the heels of last year's Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. 

The exhibit is divided into three sections, and pieces by both designers are grouped side by side to point out similarities of design even in different eras.

Part 1 is called "Waist Up, Waist Down":

via fashionologie.com
All the pieces for "Waist Up" is Miss Schiaparelli's, which feature embellished and well-tailored jackets. She lived in a time when the cafe society was so popular -- women were seated in restaurants, and the upper portion of the body got a lot of attention. She wanted to focus on the visibility and photographic possibilities of the wearer.

via wallpaper.com
Miss Prada's intricately made skirts make up "Waist Down". She found this area of the body feminine and instinctive, active and dynamic, basic and grounded. It's about sex, making love, life, and giving birth. She wanted to accentuate the natural vitality and spontaneity of the lower body with the dramatic possibility of skirts. How's that for a point of view?

Also in this section is "Neck Up, Knee Down".

via fashionologie.com
"Neck Up" displays hats and necklaces that Miss Schiaparelli was known for.

via wallpaper.com
"Knee Down" showcases Miss Prada's famous shoe designs. She says, "I think you have much more freedom to be outrageous with shoes. There is more room for craziness, for exaggeration."

Part 2 is entitled "Hard Chic, Ugly Chic, Naif Chic":

via The World News Magazine
"Hard Chic" are designs inspired by menswear, military and service uniforms.

via wallpaper.com
"Ugly Chic" are outfits made of colors/patterns that have discordant combinations.

via artnet.com
"Naif Chic" uses the sugary sweetness of children's clothes and translates this to clothing for the "not so young". 

Part 3 is called "The Surreal Body":

via wallpaper.com
The mannequins are enclosed in glass boxes and many of the dresses are more playful with the use of feathers, fabrics printed with an image of a lobster or medicine pills.  

via The World News Magazine
Noteworthy also are the masks on the mannequins made by Guido Palau

This week, our blah to TADA! crafts will take inspiration from this exhibit. See you tomorrow!


  1. Very interesting...I would've liked to see this exhibit, but that's a LONG trip from Ohio by car. I do not like the masks!!! I prefer the headless mannequins. ♥ Fashion is really intriguing to me...

  2. Hello Marfa! The MET's Costume Institute really do a wonderful job :)
    I know, some of the masks are a little scary, but Guido Palau is certainly making a niche for himself by making these. I agree, fashion is very intriguing -- I'm not big on brands or follow designer collections, but I'm fascinated by their thought process and inspirations.


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