Despite of clear parallels between Schiaparelliand Prada, considering visual elements as well as symbolic meanings as well,Prada keeps her works to be distanced from the works of Schiaparelli. There wasan exhibition held at Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2012, titled as’An imaginary conversationbetween Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada’. In the videos, Prada is seatedopposite the actress Judy Davis in the role of Schiaparelli, and both haveconstant conversation and discuss. They effectively illustrate differentopinions, and one of the prominent moment was when they talk about the relationshipbetween fashion and art. Schiaparelli said “dress designing… is to me not aprofession but an art” and Prada responds “dress designing is creative but itis not an art” (Video from exhibition, 2012).
Indeed, the conversation separatetheir views on the matter, and shows that while Schiaparelli considers fashionas a form of art, Prada takes fashion to be rather commercial to be art. Pradawidely recalls the idea of Surrealism and works of Schiaparelli the more itcomes to the recent years. It is undeniable that Surrealism has played asignificant role in the fashion world, beginning with great works ofSchiaparelli, whose root lives in the works of Prada. Moreover, Surrealistpreoccupation with human body and the skeleton motif was reincarnated in differentforms on the runway by Alexander McQueen. Unlike Prada, McQueen directlymentions that he was interested in Schiaparelli as the anarchist, the rebel(Wilson, 2010). Further to it, he was particularly fascinated by the concept ofreinvention, the ability some people had to create themselves anew (Wilson,2010). In his works, McQueen shows engagement of Schiaparelli’s work with deathand dark aesthetics.
McQueen told in an interview with Vogue (1997) saying that”I want people to be afraid of the women I dress”. With the Surrealist elementsthat resembles to Schiaparelli, McQueen’s design played the idea of the femmefatale, which embodies both sex and death (Pass, 2013). The modern philosopher Walter Benjamin, also argued that fashionhad a unique relationship with death due to its eternal quest for the new, andcontinued that “fashion has opened the business of dialectical exchange betweenwoman and ware – between carnal pleasure and the corpse. The clerk, death, talland loutish, measures the century by the yard” (in Pass, 2013).
McQueen’sskeleton works which combine elements of horror and dark personality bring arather paradoxical status of having both melancholy and beauty. And, his workscan be found similar to Schiaparelli’s works yet quite distinctivein creating different emotional resonance to the viewer. InMcQueen’s collection, there are blurring boundaries between dream and realityand conscious and the subconscious, and it is apparent that the surrealistmovement interested McQueen to a great depth. To many, surrealism removes thesurface of a vast network of hidden relationships, opportunities, memories andso forth. When dreaming, the unconscious mind speaks while it draws the truthas defined by Freud.
In regard to this, McQueen challenged conventional idea offashion, and appeared to be very rare in modern fashion industry. He saw beyondclothing’s physical constrains to its conceptual and imaginative possibilities.He constantly promoted freedom of thoughts, expression and championed theauthority of the imagination, looking into inner depth (V&A, 2015). He saidthat “what I am trying to bring to fashion is sort of originality”, and furtheradded that “there is no way back for me. I am going to take you on journeys youhave never dreamed were possible” (V&A, 2015).
McQueen’s collections haveroots in Surrealism, and widely explores the notions of the unconscious andsubversion of reality, and he marked himself as one of the greatest fashiondesigner. Schiaparelli’s works have expandedits boundary as many of her designs have appeared in pop culture during therecent few years. One of the pop singers, Lady Gaga is famous for her uniquefashion styles. Some say Lady Gaga would not be Lady Gaga without Schiaparelli,and others say that Lady gaga is helping to revive Schiaparelli’s love ofsurreal and introducing to a new generation.
And, some further add thatSchiaparelli was considered as Lady Gaga in her time. Indeed, Lady Gaga hasbeen drawing every media attention and has become a leading icon for herfashion. In the music video ‘Bad Romance’ (2009), she used skeletoninspired fashion, taking Schiaparelli’s skeleton dress further with her whitebodysuit. Also, Lady gaga used ‘Lobster’ as motifs to Dalí and Schiaparellidesigns. With experiment in both art and fashion, Lady Gaga establishes herself as an artist with styles andwas recently awarded as a Style Icon at CFDA Awards.
It can be argued that LadyGaga actively reformed the original styles in her fashion in favour of generatingshocks and owes to the public, whilst there is nothing ‘newness’ to be found interms of fashion. However, it is undeniable that Schiaparelli and thesurrealist movement expanded the boundaries of so-called fashion world – thetraces are everywhere by going beyond, and Lady Gaga reaffirmed surrealistmovement in contemporary era.