It is collection week in Milano so lots of fashion to see, and this week The Met Museum in NYC, who has had so many shows these years
of great designers as well as great art has just announced the exhibition of two great italian women designers, both linked to art: Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. Fashion and art is a centuries old love affair, from the Romans at Pompeii to ancient greek vases; Gold of Byzantines and robes of Orientals. To Poiret…the influence has flowed both ways – art to fashion – fashion to art. Real artists don’t see the difference between creating an original work of art such as a painting and designing a textile pattern, each is seen as a valid creative act.
The symbol of all that is more daring…shocking has a meaning that goes far beyond the color Schiaparelli loved..shocking pink. As she says in her book “Shocking life” published in 1954 “I stormed the press with my trouser-skirts”- Her love for beauty made her meet Poiret and love his clothes; her love for art made her say, “even if I were poverty-stricken I wouldn’t take a fortune for my Picasso”. Even 50 years old, her book is a must read; it is a challenge as she switches between first and third person- confusing to the reader- but in keeping with her love for Surrealism!
If Schiaparelli shocks, Miuccia Prada dares. A subtle nod this week seen here to Schiaparelli and her famous trouser-skirts? Maybe. But for whatever Prada’s inspiration, it was a surprising wonder to see the skirts and dresses over the pants in this great unpredictable show.
Here, hands painted by Picasso to look like gloves and photographed by Man Ray inspired Schiaparelli’s 1936 collection. Fascinated by the Surrealist movement she reversed the “picture”, making gloves looking like hands with red fingernails. The black gloves were worn with a Surrealist suit. The pockets were made to look like drawers she had done in collaboration with Dalì. The shoes of Comme des Garçons again show a bit of inspired surrealism. Walking in art.
Trompe l’oeil was a technique started by Schiaparelli very early in her career, when she created the knitted sweater on the left. Roberta di Camerino became even more famous with this technique. One of her dresses here on the right, but also the creation of La Bagonghi bag. La Bagonghi is not only the trompe l’oeil most famous bag but its shape is this season the most seen on all the runways. In the center gallery of 10 Corso Como we filled the salon with her tricks of the eye this season.
Looking at the press clippings and newspaper stories about this weeks’ fashion shows, I happily recall this picture of Bill Cunningham. Bill is a living legend although he is modest about his work. He has taken covering street fashion and turned it into a very personal artistic expression unique to him. For over 50 years he has caught the most important moments in fashion’s shows on the street. Here in front of the panel of the opening of his exhibition and in the street in Paris with master Azzedine Alaia.
Innovative photography and graphic design were natural to Lillian Bassman, when in the 40’s and 50’s she was art director of Bazaar with Alexey Brodovitch. Her long forgotten negatives of beautiful ethereal and elegant women were only found in the early 90’s. We were delighted to have a great exhibition of her work at the Galleria here in 1992. Art supporting fashion, supporting art.