Following the MET Gala last week there were a few other small events I attended in celebration of Impossible Conversations. The first was a very intimate evening at the Tisch residence with Ms.Prada – hence the picture above. I was floored/honored after asking for a photo with the notoriously camera shy designer that she agreed without hesitation (I suppose the great lengths I went to to obtain the look from FW12 worn that evening turned out to be well worth it). It was surreal to see the designer in a relaxed environment with such few people.
The following morning I attended the curator-lead walkthrough of the exhibition for the Friends of The Costume Institute. Like the occasional spaz that I am – or possibly I was still on a mental cloud from the prior evening – I showed up without a memory card in my camera. Thus, I have no photos to attest to what a wonderful morning it was, but I do have a few special anecdotes. Andrew and Harold (Head Curator and Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute) spoke about the process of designing the exhibition from when it was a mere idea to when Miuccia herself walked through for the first time.
The exhibit opens with the Impossible Conversations short film by Baz Lurhmann. In it, actress Judy Davis portrays Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia plays herself. All of Miuccia’s dialogue was written using her own words from countless conversations with Andrew to which he compiled into a script. The filming was done by Mr.Lurhmann at The Carlyle hotel on two separate occasions. For the first, he was there in person to read Sciaparelli’s lines across the table from Miuccia, but for the second he was in Australia filming Gatsby and thus was virtually there by way of Skype.
After the film comes the clothes. In the gallery Waist Up/Waist Down – Head Up/Knee down, they highlight Prada’s amazing skirts and shoes while juxtaposing them against Schiaparelli’s beautiful jackets and famous hats. Harold told a great story about how Ms.Prada requested that a pair of shoes be changed because without the contrast of the blouse she originally put with the look it appears too lady like and thus not Prada.
Later, they pay homage to Miuccia’s ealr years designing women’s wear. Andrew mentioned it was a dark period for Ms.Prada both literally and figuratively, she used minimalism to hide behind; the basic, black Prada dresses of the early 90s were certainly worlds apart from this fall’s colorful, patterned-filled collection.
While Miuccia denies looking to Schiaparelli’s work for inspiration there are undeniable similarities between the two thanks to the great Yves Saint Laurent; he used Schiaparelli as a muse and Ms.Prada looks to Yves’ work season after season. Andrew and Harold discussed how both women’s work are a bit oxymoronic. Schiaparelli was constantly praised for her craftsmanship while most of her techniques are those of someone who is not really interested in technique. Similarly, Prada is a woman who is fixated on the idea of ‘Ugly Chic’ and sees a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress as a cliché.
The final gallery in the exhibition showcases looks from some of Schiaparelli’s and Prada’s most career-defining collections. The pieces on display serve as the perfect final impression of the exhibit celebrating two of fashion’s most prized female designers.