The first thing you see when you enter the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” is a large screen. On it, a scene with a dinner table and a crystal chandelier against a black backdrop. There are two women sitting at opposite each other, engaging in conversation. Miuccia Prada is played by herself, and Elsa Schiaparelli, who died in 1973, is played brilliantly by Judy Davis. Schiap’s words are taken from her autobiography Shocking Life. This first film clip sets the scene; the two designers talk about how it was not their plan to be a fashion designer.
As you work your way through the “Impossible Conversations” exhibit, now open through August 19, 2012, you can’t help but thinking lucky for us they became not just designers but iconic figures in the fashion world. It seems hard to believe that Prada was, as she says, never influenced by Schiaparelli. In the “Waist Up / Waist Down” section, the ornate Schiap jackets pair so well with the embellished Prada skirts that you have a hard time believing that they were made some 60 to 70 years apart. They seem to be cut so to speak, from the same cloth. And so it goes throughout the exhibit.