Elsa, Meet Miuccia: Met Costume Institute Exhibition Will Focus on Schiaparelli, Prada

Looks from the Miu Miu spring 2011 and Prada resort 2012 collections flanked by Elsa Schiaparelli gowns designed with Jean Cocteau (left) and Salvador Dalí (right)

“Fashion is instant language,” Miuccia Prada has said. That gives curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton plenty of material for the conversations they’ll imagine between Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2012 Costume Institute exhibition. Opening in May, “Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada: On Fashion” will explore the affinities between the two Italian designers from different eras. “Given the role Surrealism and other art movements play in the designs of both Schiaparelli and Prada, it seems only fitting that their inventive creations be explored here at the Met,” said museum director Thomas Campbell in a statement announcing the exhibition. “Schiaparelli’s collaborations with Dalí and Cocteau as well as Prada’s current Fondazione Prada push art and fashion ever closer, in a direct, synergistic, and culturally redefining relationship.”

Inspired by a series of “Impossible Interviews” written by Miguel Covarrubias for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, Koda and Bolton will collaborate with director, screenwriter, and producer Baz Luhrmann and film production designer Nathan Crowley to develop and film simulated conversations between Schiaparelli and Prada on topics such as art, politics, and women. The resulting videos will be shown in the Met’s first-floor special exhibition galleries alongside approximately 80 designs by Schiaparelli (from the late 1920s to the early 1950s) and Prada (from the late 1980s to the present). Meanwhile, Luhrman and Crowley will assist Raul Avila in designing the 2012 Costume Institute Gala Benefit, which will be co-chaired by Prada, Anna Wintour, and actress Carey Mulligan, who will play Daisy Buchanan in Luhrman’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Another bookish tie-in? Amazon is sponsoring the exhibition, and Jeff Bezos will serve as honorary gala chair. Does this mean Prime members get to jump the line?