In the 1930's, a column by Miguel Covarrubia's in Vanity Fair explored imaginary conversations between public personas with polar ideologies. Inspired by these dialogues, Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton curated the Schiaparelli to Prada exhibition currently showing at The Met as an illuminating discourse between these two fashion greats.
In a space that even with the curious crowds feels hallowed-like, faceless mannequins stand adorned in glorious splendour.
Objects of desire, constructed from the finest threads of imagination and intent...
They create a visual dialogue between the past and present that is exciting, intelligent and relevant.
Baz Luhrman's taped interviews with Muiccia Prada and actress Judy Davis who steps in for the more theatrical Elsa Schiaperelli, create a dramatic ever present voice over to the scholarly procession.
The often opposing points of departure are an ode to history. Schiaperelli focuses on the upper body which is most often exposed as society woman gather in the cafes and at dinner tables of her day. Prada is drawn to the lower body, no doubt the influence of a more earthy experience of hippie roots.
Both explore the wide range of the couture, from the serious and sleek to what is known in 'fashionese' as the more playful 'naif-chic' with it's charming whimsy.
Schiaperelli gains the upper hand for me. Her surreal creations triumph, and leave one thinking for a long time about a hat that is a shoe ,and her flesh-coloured 'tears dress' with it's printed slashes and rips designed by Salvador Dali.
Lady Gaga must swoon at the sight of a black and white photo of that 'Lobster dress', all white silk with an assault of red lobster down it's front.
It's no wonder that the beautiful Marisa Berenson has such a sense of grace and style: Marisa and her sister wore matching ruby red dresses with shocking pink ribbons at the waist, designed by their grandmother for a photo shoot for Elle magazine when Marisa was five years old. It was her first cover, and with such a genetic advantage the first of many.
Later in the day, as Erin and I played in the shoe department of Saks on 5th Avenue, Erin got to try on some Prada shoes.
A girl could take flight in a pair of these...