Impossible Conversations

One more fashion post before we move on to the food portion of our program.

Among all the things I get in my fashion RSS feed, I had seen something about an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I watched a clip of Judi Davis playing the late designer Elsa Schiaparelli and designer Miuccia Prada playing herself. They were sitting at a table across from each other having a conversation about their approaches to fashion design.

I had forgotten about the "Impossible Conversations" exhibit until the Aunt mentioned it (she and the Uncle are members of the Met and so keep up with exhibits). At that point, wild horses could not have kept me away. So on that Tuesday afternoon after a late lunch, we went to the Met and straight to the fashion exhibit.

It was wonderful! There were items from both Schiaparelli and Prada in a kind of compare and contrast setup. One exhibit features Schiap's hats and jackets up against Prada's skirts and shoes. In the video, Schiap explains that she lived in a café society, and what people saw of women was from the waist up, whereas Prada focused on the waist down. Other parts of the exhibit compare the approach of both designers to similar pieces. There was both the video conversations and explanation cards. It was fascinating!

The comments from Miuccia Prada seemed to have a theme: that her designs are misunderstood and misinterpreted. Critics and other people think she is saying one thing, she thinks she is saying something else. Now, it's possible for anyone to be misinterpreted. But when it happens over and over again, when those who observe see one thing and the designer claims it's another thing, perhaps it might occur to her that she is conveying something other than what she intends or claims to intend. I had a sneaking suspicion that at least sometimes she was simply being perverse.

Even the Uncle enjoyed the exhibit. Curiously, he liked Prada's designs better, while Sweetie and I tended to prefer Schiaparelli's. Some of her dresses and gowns were just exquisite! It was funny that our favourite dress from Prada was one that she herself hated.

And I have an excuse for my usual laxity with a camera—no photographs allowed! They wanted you to buy stuff from the gift shop, of course.

I did not buy anything directly about the exhibit. But Sweetie found a fantastic book. It's called 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know by Simone Werle, translated from German and published by Prestel (ISBN 978-3791344133). It was published in 2010 and runs from Jeanne Lanvin to Stella McCartney. Each illustrated chapter (ordered by birth date) includes a mini-biography and the reason or reasons why the designer was chosen for the collection. Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada are included, of course, as is Coco Chanel, Emilio Pucci, Mary Quant, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, Tom Ford, and many more. I devoured the book on the plane on the way home and no doubt will soon start over again from the beginning. I have so much to learn in the field of fashion design, and this book is a wonderful primer.

No comments: