Met Gala 2012: Elsa Schiaparelli + Miuccia Prada to be focus of Spring 2012 Costume Institute Exhibition

Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada to be focus of Spring 2012 Costume Institute Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a press presentation on Friday, February 24, at the Palazzo Reale in Milan to reveal early details about its upcoming exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.

Stefano Boeri, Miuccia Prada, and Anna Wintour joined Museum President Emily Rafferty and Curators Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda for a glimpse of some of the Schiaparelli and Prada objects which will be featured in the exhibition, on view from May 10 – August 19 at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. 

Here's more information on the exhibit, which is probably going to be one of the biggest events taking place in the fashion and art realms for 2012.

Exhibition location: Special exhibition galleries, first floor
Press preview: Monday, May 7, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

The spring 2012 exhibition organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. The exhibition, on view from May 10 through August 19, 2012 (preceded on May 7 by The Costume Institute Gala Benefit), will explore the striking affinities between these two Italian designers from different eras. Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias’s “Impossible Interviews” forVanity Fair in the 1930s, curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton will originate fictive conversations between these iconic women to suggest new readings of their most innovative work.

The exhibition is made possible by Amazon.  Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.

“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 Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Schiaparelli’s collaborations with Dalí and Cocteau as well as Prada’s Fondazione Prada push art and fashion ever closer, in a direct, synergistic, and culturally redefining relationship.”

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, the Museum's Costume Institute Benefit will take place on Monday, May 7, 2012. Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, will serve as Honorary Chair. Co-Chairs will be actress Carey Mulligan, designer Miuccia Prada, and Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. This fundraising event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

The exhibition is organized by Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, and Andrew Bolton, Curator, both of the Met’s Costume Institute. Film director, screenwriter, and producer Baz Luhrmann will be the exhibition’s creative consultant, working with film production designer Nathan Crowley, who will serve as production designer (he was creative consultant for the Met’s exhibitions Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy and American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity). The design for the 2012 Costume Institute Gala Benefit will be created by Baz Luhrmann with Nathan Crowley and Raul Avila, who has produced the Benefit décor since 2007.

The Exhibition
In the galleries, iconic ensembles by Schiaparelli and Prada will be presented with videos of simulated conversations between the two designers directed by Baz Luhrmann, focusing on how both women explore similar themes in their work through very different approaches.

“Juxtaposing the work of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada allows us to explore how the past enlightens the present and how the present enlivens the past,” said Harold Koda.

“The connection of the historic to the modern highlights the affinities as well as the variances between two women who constantly subverted contemporary notions of taste, beauty, and glamour,” added Andrew Bolton.

The exhibition, in the Metropolitan Museum’s first-floor special exhibition galleries, will feature approximately 90 designs and 30 accessories by Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, and by Miuccia Prada from the late 1980s to the present. Drawn from The Costume Institute’s collection and the Prada Archive, as well as other institutions and private collections, signature objects by both designers will be arranged in seven themed galleries beginning with “Waist Up/Waist Down,” which will look at Schiaparelli’s use of decorative detailing as a response to restaurant dressing in the heyday of 1930s café society, while showing Prada’s below-the-waist focus as a symbolic expression of modernity and femininity. An accessories subsection of this gallery called “Neck Up/Knees Down” will showcase Schiaparelli’s hats and Prada’s footwear. “Ugly Chic” will reveal how both women subvert ideals of beauty and glamour by playing with good and bad taste through color, prints, and textiles.

“Hard Chic” will explore the influence of uniforms and menswear to promote a minimal aesthetic that is intended to both deny and enhance femininity. “Naïf Chic” will focus on Schiaparelli and Prada’s adoption of a girlish sensibility to subvert expectations of age-appropriate dressing. “The Classical Body,” which also incorporates “The Pagan Body,” explores the designers’ engagement with antiquity through the gaze of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. “The Exotic Body” will explore the influence of Eastern cultures through fabrics such as lamé, and silhouettes such as saris and sarongs.

“The Surreal Body” in the final gallery will illustrate how both women affect contemporary images of the female body through Surrealistic practices such as displacement, playing with scale, and blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion as well as the natural and the artificial.

Schiaparelli, who worked in Paris from the 1920s until her house closed in 1954, was associated closely with the Surrealist movement and created such iconic pieces as the ‘Tear’ dress, the ‘Shoe’ hat, and the ‘Bug’ necklace. Prada, who holds a degree in political science, took over her family’s Milan-based business in 1978, and focuses on fashion that reflects the eclectic nature of Postmodernism.

A book by Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda, with an introduction by Judith Thurman, will accompany the exhibition. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

The Museum’s website will feature the exhibition at www.metmuseum.org/impossibleconversations beginning February 24.  

Image:  Miuccia Prada (center) with (from left) Cathy Beaudoin (President, Amazon Clothing), Emily K. Rafferty (President, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Andrew Bolton (Curator, The Costume Institute), Anna Wintour, Harold Koda (Curator in Charge, The Costume Institute), and Stefano Boeri (Milan Commissioner of Culture, Fashion, and Design). Photo Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Stefano Trovati.

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