Elsa Schiaparelli in a 1932 portrait by George Hoyningen-Huené and Miuccia Prada, photographed by Guido Harari in 1999. (Photos: Hoyningen-Huené/Vogue/Condé Nast Archive and Guido Harari/Contrasto/Redux)
It’s Fashion Week in Milan, and between yesterday’s pattern-happy Prada collection and this evening’s Goth glam Versace looks, the Metropolitan Museum of Art took over the Sala delle Cariatidi in the Palazzo Reale for a press luncheon to announce details about the upcoming Costume Institute exhibition, “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.” Museum president Emily K. Rafferty, curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton, and Anna Wintour were joined by Miuccia Prada (in a fresh-from-the-runway coat) and Stefano Boeri, who holds the enviable post of Milan Commissioner of Culture, Fashion, and Design, for a look at some of the Schiaparelli and Prada objects that will be featured in the exhibition, which opens on May 10 following the usual megabash (this year underwritten by Amazon).
“Juxtaposing the work of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada allows us to explore how the past enlightens the present and how the present enlivens the past,” said Koda. The show will feature not only dueling iconic ensembles but also imagined conversations between the two designers in videos directed by Baz Luhrmann, creative consultant to the exhibition. “The connection of the historic to the modern highlights the affinities as well as the variances between two women who constantly subverted contemporary notions of taste, beauty, and glamour,” said Bolton.
The curators have assembled approximately 90 designs and 30 accessories by Schiaparelli (1890–1973) from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, and by Prada from the late 1980s to the present. They will be displayed in six thematic sections: Waist Up/Waist Down (with a hats-and-shoes subsection called “Neck Up/Knees Down”), Ugly Chic, Naïf Chic, The Classical Body, The Exotic Body, and our personal favorite The Surreal Body, in which viewers can compare transparent raincoats and disembodied object prints. Get a sneak peek at some of the featured works on the Met’s website, which today debuted images and detailed information about the show.