Impossible Conversations, Happening Simultaneously

Schiaparelli & Prada - Classical Body I looked forward to the Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for many months. I LOVE Elsa Schiaparelli’s work and while I run hot and cold about Miuccia Prada’s career, I was excited to see “the striking affinities between the two Italian designers from very different eras”. It’s true, they exist. A lot of designers have things in common, not least of which are being either female or Italian. Schiaparelli & Prada - Neck Up/Knees Down Signature pieces by both designers are arranged in seven themed galleries: ”waist up/waist down”, “ugly chic”, “hard chic”, “naïf chic”, “the classical body”, “the exotic body” and “the surreal body”. Given that you can even find work by two designers that could fit into those subheadings, shows that the two very innovative artists (my designation, they disagreed about that title) have overlapping themes in their work. Schiaparelli & Prada -Trapeze Buttons Schiaparelli could simultaneously flatter the female form, put a shoe on its head and drawers across the chest. Depending on my mood, I would say that Prada has only nailed the “surreal body” and the “ugly chic”. Schiaparelli & Prada - Ugly Chic Whatever bipolar feelings I had about Prada were approximate to my feelings about the actress Judy Davis. Davis plays the role of Schiaparelli in Baz Luhrmann’s eight short videos projected huge across the walls in each room. Incidentally, while it must have been an honor to be asked to portray such a talent, it must have come with mixed emotion, as Schiap believed herself to be unattractive. (Then again, beautiful Marion Cotillard successfully pulled off Edith Piaf, another unconventional looker and European star of the early 20th century.) Schiaparelli & Prada - Judy Davis Thanks to this exhibit, my opinion of both the designer and the actress has increased significantly. What opinion didn’t change was mine about Baz Luhrmann. The director has a way of taking a fantastic subject and making it annoying. How is it possible to turn stories from Shakespeare and the Moulin Rouge into tarty, seizure-inducing, strobe lit films? (As a director at the Art Deco Society of California, I’m dreading next year’s release of The Great Gatsby.) The films shown here are physically too big and too loud for the space. The volume encouraged visitors to talk to one another over the din. The dialog is repeated as subtitles and again on the exhibition signage, so jockeying for a view of all three was unnecessary and distracting. Not all museum shows need to incorporate multimedia. Sometimes the subject matter really does just speak for itself. Schiaparelli & Prada - Surreal Body That said, it was a thrill to see so many iconic pieces by both designers in person. Not since the fantastic 2004 Shocking exhibit of at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, have so many of Schiaparelli’s garments been assembled. I am grateful to have seen both. Schiaparelli & Prada - Bug Buttons Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations is at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from May 10th until August 19th, 2012   Photos by Jeremy Brautman and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Stuck at Prom

1st Place Lara&Cole

Despite what anyone else on Facebook may imply, I wouldn’t go back to high school under any circumstances. Except possibly one: the annual Duck Tape duct tape “Stuck at Prom” contest.



Apparently, 1000s of high school students around the U.S. spend upwards of 342 hours of valuable study/team practice/make out/self doubt time instead crafting duct tape into haute couture. Sadly, this wearable art phenomenon didn’t start until 2001, or I would have been

Runners Up Rebecca & Jay Travis

Based on the entrants’ own write ups, they claim to have used anywhere from 19 to 62 rolls of duck tape to craft their ensembles, which at $6.29-$7.29 a roll, is no huge bargain. Or maybe it is? (I wore a vintage dress to my senior prom in the 1980s, which I bought with babysitting money, so it probably didn’t cost much more than a few rolls of duct tape.) To insure that contestants would have the support of their folks, each member of the winning couples can score as much as $5,000 in scholarship money and $5,000 for their high school.

Runners Up Nasia & Caine

Did I say “entrants’ own write ups”? Yes, and now I want to work in college admissions. The explanations are almost as fun and colorful as the gowns. From the suck up (“we <3 duck tape!”), to the earnest 3rd person fashion lesson (“styled after Victorian era 1830’s clothes”), to the “whatever”, unfortunately, many are united in their misspellings. Go graduating class of 2012!

April & Paola

“As young philosophers and supporters of the arts, we set out to persevere through the trials of the duct tape contest and conquer this worthy adversary. This notion of a heart of gold, the heart of a lion inspired our prom attire; our minds correlated a heart of a lion to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and our Rastafarian theme.“

Runners Up Cole & Gabrielle

The winners were chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Workmanship (30%)
  • Originality (25%)
  • Use of Color (25%)
  • Accessories (10%)
  • Use of Duct Tape (10%)

You don’t even really need to know that, as perusing the hundreds of photos, it’s clear who the winners are. Some are winners because their craftsmanship clearly lands them a future spot on Project Runway, or into the Martha Stewart upper echelons of craft superstars; others just because they are so out and proud at age 16.

2nd Place Kelvin & Kailie detail


There are a few entries who weren’t official winners, but you know their mothers think they should have been. Good on all of them, I say. I’m just so dang jealous.

For more information and pictures of ALL the entrants, go here.