Art plays an important role in the life and design of both Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. Schiaparelli's collaborations with the Surrealists Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau, and Prada's interest in and support of contemporary artists, as reflected in the collections and galleries of the Fondazione Prada, have brought art and fashion into close proximity, in a direct, synergistic, and culturally redefining relationship. It seems especially fitting, therefore, that their inventive creations be the subject of an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations considers the striking affinities between these two iconic Italian designers from different eras: Schiaparelli, who worked in Paris from the 1920s until her house closed in 1954, and Prada, who took over her family's Milan-based business in 1978. Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias's "Impossible Interviews" for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton, respectively Curator in Charge and Curator of The Costume Institute, conceived of this exhibition and accompanying publication as a series of imaginary conversations between these women to suggest new readings of their most innovative work.
Drawn primarily from The Costume Institute's collection and the Prada Archive, as well as other institutions and private collections, signature objects by Schiaparelli and Prada are compared and contrasted to reveal the designers' extraordinary impact on contemporary notions of fashion. In this book's preface, Bolton and Koda explore the ways in which both women have employed unconventional materials, unexpected colors, fanciful details, and novel prints to challenge conventional ideas of beauty, glamour, and taste.