The spring exhibition 2012 organized by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, explores the striking similarities between these two Italian designers from different periods. Inspired by the satirical “Impossible Interviews” for Vanity Fair done by Miguel Covarrubias during the thirties, the curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton have presented a dialogue between these two iconic women to suggest new readings of their most innovative works.
Curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton organized this interesting exhibition. Film director, screenwriter and producer Baz Luhrmann was the creative consultant of the exhibition and created a series of filmed items for this exhibition. Catherine Martin, who is a long time collaborator of Luhrmann, did the production the filming design. The exhibition design was done by Nathan Crowley, who served as production designer (he was a creative consultant for the exhibition “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy” and “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). All treatments of the mannequins’ heads of the masks were designed by Guido Palau.
In the galleries, the iconic sets by Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada are presented in short videos, simulating a dialogue between these two outstanding designers; directed by Luhrmann, the exhibition focuses on how they explore related themes in their work through very different approaches.
“By juxtaposing the work of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, allows us to explore how the past illuminates the present and how this revives the past,” said Koda.
“The connection between the historical and modern highlights, the similarities and variations between two women who constantly have revolutionized contemporary notions of taste, beauty and glamour,” said Bolton.
The exhibition presents approximately 100 designs and 40 accessories by Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) from the twenties to the early fifties, and by Miuccia Prada since the late eighties to the present that belongs to the collection of the Costume Institute, the Prada archives and other institutions and private collections. Eight short films created by Luhrmann, in which Prada speaks with Schiaparelli, who is played by actress Judy Davis is recreated at the entrance of the Gallery and the seven thematic sections of the exhibition to provide the connecting thread to the objects. In the film, “Schiap” and Prada are sitting at a dining table with a dialog created with paraphrased excerpts from the autobiography of Schiaparelli “Shocking Life” and the filmed comments by Prada. Visitors will have the sensation of spying a great meeting of two great minds of fashion.
The section of the exhibition entitled “waist up / waist down” shows Schiaparelli’s use of decorative details in response to the fashion trends of the café society of 1930s, while showing the approach from the waist down as Prada symbolic expression of modernity and femininity. A subsection of accessories in this gallery called “Neck Up/Knees Down” show hats by Schiaparelli and Prada shoes. “Ugly Chic” reveals how both women revolutionize ideals of beauty and glamour playing with the good and bad taste with color, prints and fabrics.
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