Schiaparelli & Prada

— Vintage reigns supreme

Elsa Schiaparelli, L'Officiel, September 1933. Photo by Edidio Scaioni. Miuccia Prada, 2010. Photo by David Sims.

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations is a book with images of Elsa Schiaparelli and Prada's fashion collections. I never knew there was so much going on in 1930s fashion.

In the past, I've considered Prada to be a pinnacle of design, but upon finishing the book, I'm no longer enamored by the brand. I've come across an 'anti-commercial'. Could you imagine? A brand telling me not to like them that much?

Perhaps Prada doesn't fall short compared to today's designs, but when placed next to Schiaparelli's work, the collections seem to lack the timeless attractiveness of great design.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, September 1938. Photo by Regina Relang. Miuccia Prada, 2007. Photo by Toby McFarlan Pond.

Schiaparelli on the other hand--the elegant simplicity seems unfussy and well thought out. I'd wear all the pieces today.

Perhaps my tastes have changed. The book reminded me of decades past, when I was fawning over a memorable Prada skirt or dress. Maybe it takes several decades to enjoy Prada designs in the same way I see Schiaparelli.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, June, 1938. Photo by Horst. Miuccia Prada, 2009. Photo by Toby McFarlan Pond.

"Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli—both Italian, both feminists—share striking affinities in terms of their design strategies and fashion manifestoes."

The book proved the opposite. While there were similar details in their works, overall, the feeling and quality of design was strikingly different. My favorite works from the book are cataloged here. A few exceptional designs from Prada match the splendor of Schiaparelli.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue 1935. Photo by Horst. Elsa Schiaparelli, L'Officiel, December 1933. Photo by Egidio Scaioni.

Placing one Prada outfit next to a Schiaparelli on each page--the actions, what the designs were able to evoke when compared to each other, spoke louder than words.



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