Schiaparelli and Prada’s Impossible Conversations

I finally had a chance to check out the Schiaparelli and Prada exhibit at the Met over the weekend. I’ve been a huge fan of Schiaparelli from even way before this exhibit, having found out about her when I first started learning how to sew and then subsequently sewing vintage patterns.

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The first part of the exhibit, Waist Up/Waist Down, paired Schiaparelli’s embellished jackets with Prada’s skirts. Schiaparelli focused more on the upper part of the body since most of her clients back then sat in cafes and would be more likely to be noticed that way and Prada focuses on the lower half.

The second part (Ugly Chic, Hard Chic, Naif Chic) talked about similar elements of their clothes, whether through the use of similar fabrics, motifs (insects, military style, lips, sari fabric, fur, feathers or leather).

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The third part showed Prada’s clothes next to digital projections of Schiaparelli’s clothes.

All through the exhibit they had an imaginary video dialogue projected on the walls between Prada (playing herself) and Schiaparelli (played by an actress), talking about their lives and what influenced them.

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Lobster Dress, 1937: white silk evening dress with a crimson waistband featuring a large lobster painted (by Dali) onto the skirt

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This exhibit is one of the smaller ones I’ve seen in the Costume Institute, but it was good to see Schiaparelli’s incredible well-preserved pieces, most dating back from the 30s or 40s. Personal favorites: Schiaparelli’s lobster dress, dress with cape attached, light pink dress with butterflies (fitted bodice and full skirt), dinner jacket featuring a beaded optical illusion of a vase of roses/face on the back; Prada’s black pleated skirt with rayon and beaded appliques of cherry blossoms.

Source: hyperallergic.com, metmuseum.org, Schiap wiki