"They presented things that most people might say were unattractive and made them be chic," Koda says.
Part of the exhibit is categorized into looks that are "ugly chic," think discordant combinations; "hard chic," the military- and menswear-inspired silhouettes; and "naif chic," drawing inspiration from the sweet styles of children and turning them tougher.
Both designers seem aware, though, that despite their reputations to like the unconventional, their customers tend to be straightforward.
"Curiously enough, in spite of (my) apparent craziness and love of fun and gags, (my) greatest fans were the ultra-smart and conservative women, wives of diplomats and bankers, millionaires and artists, who liked severe suits and plain black dresses," Schiaparelli was quoted from her autobiography "Shocking Life." (Fodder from the book dictated Schiaparelli's half of her conversation.)
The rest of the show covers the classical body and exotic body.
Some of what visitors will see:
—Schiaparelli's cape in black silk velvet with an embroidered image of the Greek god Apollo from 1938-39; a "Shoe" hat, crafted with a cone heel, from 1937-38; a black silk crepe de chine evening dress printed with matchsticks from 1935; a bolero in pink silk crepe embroidered with circus elephants and acrobats from 1938.
—Prada's retro 1950s cruiser-car stilettos with a fin-shaped heel and red plastic taillight from 2012; a signature black nylon dress with zipper closure from 1995; a blue-and-gold matelasse Lurex cocktail dress from 2002; a white cotton-canvas top embroidered with monkeys, bananas and baroque scrolls paired with a skirt of pink-and-black striped cotton canvas from 2011.
Koda said these two were really the first and best choices for the conversation that he conceived with co-curator Andrew Bolton because there was a comparison and contrast for every look, detail and idea.
He allowed, however, "It could have been (Madeleine) Vionnet and (Azzedine) Alaia."
"Impossible Conversations" opens Thursday and runs through Aug. 19.
Samantha Critchell tweets fashion at http://twitter.com/ap_fashion and is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/.!/pages/Samantha-Critchell/142508605835740.
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