The Costume Institute’s “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” exhibit–you know, the reason for that whole over-the-top Met Gala–opens this Thursday, May 10 and will run through August 19 at the Met. The exhibit explores the similarities between two powerful Italian women designers, Elsa Schiaparelli and Muiccia Prada. Based on Vanity Fair‘s “Impossible Interviews” from the 1930s, the exhibit meticulously and painstakingly weaves together the seemingly disparate and dissimilar work and lives of Prada and Schiapparelli through a video series of “impossible conversations” created by Costume Institute curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton with the help of filmmaker Baz Luhrman and acclaimed stage actress Judy Davis. Bolton interviewed Prada over the course of several months and spliced that footage together with Davis’ whose script comes directly from Schiaparelli’s autobiography Shocking Life.
As you can tell from that mouthful, the exhibit doesn’t exactly have a simple elevator pitch. It’s complicated and challenging and cerebral–just like Prada and Schiapparelli. I got a chance to preview the exhibit yesterday. It probably won’t be the blockbuster that the McQueen retrospective was–in part because the exhibit is a bit more intellectual and difficult to grasp. The drama and sentimentality of the McQueen exhibit isn’t there–but what I did come away with was a real satisfying sense of, to cop a Spice Girls phrase, girl power.
So if you can get to New York before August 19, get yourself to the Met to see this exhibit. You’ll want to talk about it for hours with your friends after seeing it and isn’t that the best?
If you can’t make it to NYC, click through for a preview including the fantastic “Impossible Conversations” videos starring Miuccia Prada and Judy Davis that accompany each section, via Vogue’s YouTube, along with their captions from the exhibit (and some of my own commentary).
Photos: Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art