Met Preview: Schiaparelli and Prada Exhibit Unveiled

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.

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.

  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.

    Accessories included in the exhibit.


 Schiaparelli hats and Prada shoes in the exhibit.

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.”

These women could be in the same room today, yet there’s not a relationship and that’s what’s been fun about this show: seeing these connections.

Elsa Schiaparelli, played by Australian actress Judy Davis

 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.

Photos By Kyle Ericksen