NEW YORK — That Miuccia Prada is one of the most influential designers is hardly a fashion secret, but the Costume Institute’s “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations,” which opens its doors to the public on Thursday, brings a new dimension to the notion.
With the designer’s help (and that of film director Baz Luhrmann), the Costume Institute is making the impossible possible: a meeting between the two strong Italian women. Videos of Prada herself and Elsa Schiaparelli, played by Australian actress Judy Davis — sitting at the heads of an ornate black table with a glass of Prosecco each and in lively conversation — are used as a backdrop in the exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. They don’t just bring to life a fictitious version of Schiaparelli, who died in 1973. They also insert Prada (the person) directly into the exhibition’s narrative — quite a feat considering her reticence to discuss fashion, because, as she put it in the opening clip, it’s either “ridiculous or supertechnical.”
More fascinating than these conversations, however, is the subliminal “conversation” between the garments that takes place at the four galleries.
Prada’s main oeuvre spans two decades, and many of the garments on display come from recent collections, including fall looks that have yet to reach stores. To that end, curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton’s challenge was to find ways to differentiate the displays from window installations on Madison Avenue or Via Montenapoleone.
Enter Schiaparelli. Even though she never inspired Prada, Koda and Bolton tapped into an unexpected kinship between the two, from Schiaparelli’s literal use of baroque concepts and Prada’s tropical take featuring bananas and monkeys, to Prada’s famous lipstick-print skirt teamed with Schiaparelli’s matchstick-motif dress.
Shown adjacent like this, the impact is powerful: Prada manages to make Schiaparelli’s work seem contemporary, while Schiaparelli’s brings Prada into a context of fashion and design history, removed from the world of commerce.
“These women could be in the same room today, yet there’s not a relationship,” Koda said during an exclusive walkthrough on Friday. “And that’s what’s been fun about this show: seeing these connections.”
After the first gallery introducing the first of the Luhrmann-directed videos, the second gallery — “Waist up/Waist down” — focuses on how each designer honed in on separate segments of the body, with Prada always showing a particular preference for adding detail to the skirt. (“But to me the waist up is more spiritual, more intellectual, while the waist down is more basic, more grounded,” she says in the video. “It’s about sex. It’s about making love. It’s about life. It’s about giving birth.”) Prada skirts are displayed next to Schiaparelli jackets with similar ideas, including, for instance, mirror embellishments or fantasy motifs. The idea is echoed in an accessories vitrine that graphically displays Schiaparelli hats over Prada shoes.
The third gallery is divided into multiple themes: “Hard Chic,” “Naif Chic” and “Ugly Chic” versus “The Classical Body” and “The Exotic Body.”
The exhibition ends with a series of Lucite-encased garments themed “The Surreal Body,” which touches on just that — the quirkier looks by both, such as a lip-motif skirt by Prada shown against a visual of Schiaparelli’s lamb chop-shaped hat, or a sequin Prada ensemble resembling fish scales with a projection of a Schiaparelli dress with a lobster motif.
Prada, who is a cochair at tonight’s gala with Carey Mulligan and Anna Wintour and alongside honorary chair Jeff Bezos from Amazon, herself got a preview when she stopped by the Met Thursday night. “She was concerned that the shoes were correct,” Koda said.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)