The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
May 10–August 19, 2012
1000 Fifth Avenue, New York
+1 212 535 7710


The spring 2012 exhibition organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art explores the striking affinities between these two Italian designers from different eras. Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias’s satirical “Impossible Interviews” for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton orchestrate conversations between these iconic women to suggest new readings of the designers’ most innovative work.

In the galleries, iconic ensembles by Schiaparelli and Prada are presented alongside short videos of simulated conversations between the two designers directed by Baz Luhrmann, focusing on how the women explore similar themes in their work through very different approaches.

“Juxtaposing the work of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada allows us to explore how
the past enlightens the present and how the present enlivens the past,” said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge. “The connection of the historic to the modern highlights the affinities as well as the variances between two women who constantly subverted contemporary notions of taste, beauty, and glamour,” added Andrew Bolton, also of the Costume Institute.

The exhibition features approximately 100 designs and 40 accessories by Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973) from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, and by Miuccia Prada from the late 1980s to the present. Eight short videos created by Luhrmann, in which Prada talks with Schiaparelli, who is played by actress Judy Davis, animate the entry gallery and the seven themed sections of the exhibition and provide the thread that connects the objects. In the films, “Schiap” and Prada are seated at a dining table in dialogue that has been created using paraphrased excerpts from Schiaparelli’s autobiography, Shocking Life, and Prada’s filmed remarks.