A Kalen Review: Schiaparelli and Prada

6 Jun

One of the destinations on our list this summer is NYC (well, really, when isn’t it?) to see the new exhibit at the Costume Institute at the MET. Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations opened May 10 with the annual Met Ball Gala. Considered to the be the ultimate Red Carpet event for the fashion industry, the Met Ball Gala brings out the who’s who of the fashion and entertainment world. We’ll talk more about the Gala in a later post, but for the moment I want to dive in a little deeper to the seemingly odd pairing of Schiaparelli and Prada.


Elsa Schiaparelli began her career in Paris in 1928 with a single item; a black sweater with a trompe d’oeil bow.

She opened her first workroom specializing in sport attire to be worn for golf, tennis, etc. In 1930, she added an atelier to design couture and evening wear and began the most successful decade of her career. Her clothing was very much influenced by the art of her day; Cubism in the early 30s with clean, architectural lines, and Surrealism in the later 30s with whimsical buttons, creative fabrics and abstract accessories (insect necklace, anyone?).

During the war, her atelier closed and the house reopened in 1945. Schiaparelli’s post war designs were still artistically influenced; they lacked the humor and novelty of her pre-war collections.

Miuccia Prada took over the family leather business in 1978. Becoming famous for nylon bags and backpacks in the 1980s, Prada launched their ready –to-wear collection in 1989.

While other designers in the late 80’s were designing lines that were short, sexy and flirty; Prada came on the scene showing clean lines, luxurious fabrics and basic colors and the fashion world took notice.

By the 1990’s, Prada was a leading force in the fashion world producing simple, classic styles in luxurious fabrics and neutral colors. In 1995, Miuccia Prada won the Designer of the Year award by the Council for Fashion Designers of America.

Today, Miuccia Prada is known as one of fashion’s most intellectual talents. She plays with fabrics and colors; pairing the opulent with the every day, and creating color schemes only she could dream up. Yet luxury and high quality continue to be the core of the brand.

So, two driven female designers breaking the mold and innovating fashion, one in the 1930’s and one in the 1990’s. Elsa and Miuccia were bound together by their love of opulent fabrics, clean lines and impeccable detailing. Creatively, their influences were vastly different. Elsa looked to the art of her time and was not afraid to take risks in quirkiness. Miuccia was driven by technology and manipulation of fabrics and sought to innovate while always maintaining her high standards. If you look at the images from the Met Museum website, it is uncanny how similar their styles were. There is no evidence that Miuccia was influenced by Schiaparelli, but undoubtedly, she was familiar with her. It is a conversation that I for one, would love to be a fly on the wall to witness. If you find yourself in NYC this summer, make a point to drag whoever it is that you are with to this exhibit. There are very few female designers past or present as influential in the fashion world as Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. If we are lucky enough to make it there ourselves, we’ll be sure to give a full report!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: