Monday, 27 August 2012

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at the NYC Met

Whilst in New York City I spent a morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - the largest museum of art in the USA, and one of the biggest in the world. Its permanent collection is made up of over 2 million pieces, ranging from ancient Roman sculptures to Art Nouveau era stained glass windows. The museum has a section dedicated clothing from across all eras: The Costume Institute. Although they do not have a permanent display, specialist exhibitions are held here year-round.

Last time I was at the Met, it was for the incredible Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition. (You can see my sketches from that visit here) This time, The Costume Institute were holding an exhibition on fashion designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, comparing and contrasting their work, design processes and design values. Entitled 'Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations', this display aimed to find the similarities between designers from such different eras, to provide the viewer with an insight into an evolving fashion design process.

It was interesting to see garments designed by each designer, there were a few pieces in particular that stood out to me: a gold tassled and black felt hat by Schiaparelli I found really unique and refreshingly playful. Prada's jackets from 2002 echoed the peplum shape that is so in fashion this year - a reminder that fashion is often recycled!

"Dress designing...
is to me not a profession but an art" 
- Elsa Schiaparelli

I was slightly disappointed by this exhibition though. It was a little short, and I felt that the whole idea of Schiaparelli and Prada's work being similar (or not?) was forced and confusing. As a result, the displays lacked continuity and came across as haphazard in some places.

This exhibition did have something to offer to a visitor who, like me, didn't know much about the designers, or what work they had done. However, it wasn't as good as Alexander McQueen last year. But then, I'm not sure if anything could top that!

Visit the Met Museum website for more information about current exhibitions and displays.

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