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Prada and Schiaparelli

Culture Watch
Elsa Schiaparelli (left) and Miuccia Prada (right).

The countdown is officially on. In just a little less than seven months we’ll be queuing up again at the Metropolitan Museum’s new Costume Institute exhibition dedicated to … Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli.

Each woman was/is a pioneer of her time, often bucking the trend and somehow ending up tow beats ahead of the next one. “Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada: On Fashion,” will examine the work of these two Italian designers, from the way they broke with fashion convention to their affinity for the art world.

In her day, Schiaparelli's designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists like her collaborators Salvador DalÌ and Alberto Giacometti. One of her most famous dresses is referred to as the Lobster Dress with its hand-painted lobster that adorns its skirt. DalÌ painted the dress at the same time that lobsters became a reoccurring theme in his work. Other notable collaborations were the shoe hat and the Tears dress, which left the garment looking like an animal had torn it to shreds.

Prada’s collaborations with the art world are numerous and oft reported. Her Fondazione Prada mounts high profile exhibitions and is the home to her personal collection of contemporary art. The Fondazione is also restoring a palazzo in Venice, which boasted an incredible array of modern and contemporary works during this year’s Biennale.

The exhibition will feature about 80 designs by Schiaparelli from the late Twenties through the early Fifties when she retired, and Prada from the late Eighties through to the current day.

The collection of Schiaparelli pieces were donated by the Brooklyn Museum when its costume collection was transferred to the Met in 2009. The exhibition will feature a sort of conversation between the two designers as topics are explored through their points of view. Themes include “On Art,” “On Politics,” “On Women,” and “On Creativity” with Schiaparelli’s perspective drawn mostly from interview she gave to Vanity Fair in her day. Baz Luhrmann will serve as the exhibition’s creative consultant and work with production designer Nathan Crowley and curator Andrew Bolton.

As always the Costume Institute Benefit remains one of the year’s highlights, and next year Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of, will be the honorary chair, with Carey Mulligan, Miuccia Prada and Anna Wintour serving as co-chairs.

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