While the Met gala exhibition has come and gone, the book is one worth keeping for years to come. The exhibit, conceived by Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton as a series of imaginary conversations between designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Mucci Prada, focuses on the similarities and differences between two Italian designers, known best for their use of unorthodox materials, unexpected colors, imaginative details and fresh prints.
Both women described as feminists with a disdain for conformity, are represented through personal quotes which are used to create conversations between the designers, read in small inserts within the book between imagery of their designs. The conversations focus on chic in various manifestations (hard, ugly, naïf) and the body as carrier of narratives (exotic body, classical body, surreal body and waist up/waist down). Creating a window into the ideas of the designers, one most interesting difference between the women is found in their opinions of fashion design as a form of art. Schiaparelli being pro and Prada con.
Among the conversations of great designers of different eras the real treasure comes from the over 200 vintage and newly photographed images that bring fashion history to life. Not only does this book present the progression of complimentary female designers, its imagery and fashion excellence make it truly a work of art (although Mucci Prada may disagree).