Subversive Chic: Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada

From The Paris Review:

Prada1_blogThe two designers never met, but their histories are remarkably parallel: both were born to upper-crust Italian families led by scholar-patriarchs, weathered Catholic upbringings, and found fashion late. A jilted young Schiaparelli experienced the dawn of Dada in New York before moving to Paris, where she debuted her first couture collection at thirty-seven. Prada kindled counterculture while earning her Ph.D. in political science in Milan in the 1970s, studied mime for a half decade (I know), and then took over her family’s luxury-goods company. She got into ready-to-wear when she was thirty-nine.

Until curators Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda brought this Impossible Conversation to the Metropolitan Museum, not even Prada knew how kindred they are. Until the exhibition, she cited her famous Surrealist lip print from Spring 2000—a motif of floating red lips dotting pleated skirts—as a nod to Yves Saint Laurent. She hadn’t considered YSL was giving lip service to Schiap, who put the pucker on a suit at the urging of Dali. (Call it art for a really cute skirt’s sake.) There are many similar overlaps, which the curators group into categories like “Naif Chic,” saccharine clothes that Prada says explore “innocence as a choice”; “Hard Chic,” which showcases the designers’ interests in menswear and military uniforms; and “Ugly Chic,” items culled from the collections that intentionally subvert standards of feminine beauty, forgoing pink for palettes of neon bile and dirty sand.

More here.