Elsa Schiaparelli, L'Officiel, October 1937 Photograph by George Saad Copyright Les Editions Jalou, L'Officiel
The Met's Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, explores the striking affinities between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian designers from different eras. Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias's "Impossible Interviews" for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, the exhibition features orchestrated conversations between these iconic women to suggest new readings of their most innovative work. Iconic ensembles are presented with videos of simulated conversations between Schiaparelli and Prada directed by Baz Luhrmann, focusing on how both women explore similar themes in their work through very different approaches.
The exhibition showcases approximately one hundred designs and forty accessories by Schiaparelli (1890–1973) from the late 1920s to the early 1950s and by Prada from the late 1980s to the present. Drawn from The Costume Institute's collection and the Prada Archive, as well as other institutions and private collections, signature objects by both designers are arranged in seven themed galleries: "Waist Up/Waist Down," "Ugly Chic," "Hard Chic," "Naïf Chic," "The Classical Body," "The Exotic Body," and "The Surreal Body."
Schiaparelli, who worked in Paris from the 1920s until her house closed in 1954, was closely associated with the Surrealist movement and created such iconic pieces as the "Tear" dress, the "Shoe" hat, and the "Bug" necklace. Prada, who holds a degree in political science, took over her family's Milan-based business in 1978, and focuses on fashion that reflects the eclectic nature of Postmodernism.
Tyler School of Art is located on Temple University's main campus in Philadelphia, PA. The Fibers & Materials Studies Program offers both BFA and MFA degrees with a strong interdisciplinary approach toward traditional textile processes in combination with innovative contemporary techniques. The The Fibers & Materials Studies curriculum teaches technical skills to allow students to explore possibilities through loom and off-loom processes, dyeing and printing and digital output. The Fibers & Materials Studies courses encourage the use and experimentation of both traditional and non-traditional materials as diverse as Tyvek, latex rubber, wax, resin, and plant matter. Student work investigates two and three dimensions including wall pieces, wearables, indoor and outdoor sculptural installations, and book forms. To learn more about the program, please visit Tyler School of Art, Fibers & Materials Studies.