Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli, an impossible conversation

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The Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute will showcase designs by Prada and the late Elsa Schiaparelli, designer who worked in the area of Surrealism in the 1930s. The show will run at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New york, from 10 may 2012 to 19 August 2012. Australian film director Baz Luhrmann has contributed to the show, by merging Elsa's commentaries (she wrote a book) with interviews with Miuccia Prada. He will also help with the production design for the event.

The exhibit will feature about 80 designs, a combination of pieces by Schiaparelli from the late 1920s to the early 1950s and by Prada from the late 1980s until today. “They are both Italian women, and even though Miuccia might not describe herself as a feminist, what we see is these two very strong women with a very strong aesthetic,” said Harold Koda, curator at the Museum's Costume Institute.

While Schiaparelli’s work can’t reference Prada’s — she died in 1973 — and Prada’s work never references Schiaparelli’s, there are significant resonances between their designs. The show will be structured as an imaginary conversation between the two designers; different sections will juxtapose their opinions on various topical themes, including "On Art," "On Politics," "On Women," and "On Creativity." Examples of similarities include the Baroque curlicues from Prada last year, which can be compared to the almost identical embellishment on a dress designed by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1937 for Wallis Simpson. Elsa is also famous for her work with Salvador Dali. She staged remarkable shows, such as the 1938 "Circus" collection in which models were hanging out of the windows at her studio in Place Vendome, Paris.

Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli are currently working on a contemporary art museum in Milan, due to open in 2013, and so they have a great sensitivity to artistic personalities such as Elsa Schiaparelli.

For the current Prada collection and further information, see the Prada Facebook page and the Prada official website.