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About Rachel Wolff

Rachel Wolff is a Brooklyn-based art writer and critic. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country, Condé Nast Traveler, ARTnews, Modern Painters, Art + Auction, and The Daily Beast. Originally from Chicago, Rachel is cooking, eating, or talking about food when she’s not writing or thinking about art.

Miuccia Meets Her Match

SaksPOV previews Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at the Met

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and its venerable Costume Institute) confirms what many of us have known all along: that fashion designers can be nuanced, intellectually rigorous and masterfully skilled artists too. Last year’s revelation came via the late great Alexander McQueen’s fiercely inventive and hauntingly elegant avant-garde creations. This year, the Met has opted for a duo of talent that spans decades of style, glamour, innovation and a bevy of iconic, well-heeled patrons: “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.” The exhibition opens on May 10 (three days after the tonight’s hotly anticipated, star-studded “Met Ball”) and features some 90 ensembles and 30 accessory pieces by the two groundbreaking designers. The show is meant to simulate a dialogue of sorts, organized into themes like…

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Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and its venerable Costume Institute) confirms what many of us have known all along: that fashion designers can be nuanced, intellectually rigorous and masterfully skilled artists too. Last year’s revelation came via the late great Alexander McQueen’s fiercely inventive and hauntingly elegant avant-garde creations. This year, the Met has opted for a duo of talent that spans decades of style, glamour, innovation and a bevy of iconic, well-heeled patrons: “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.”

The exhibition opens on May 10 (three days after the tonight’s hotly anticipated, star-studded “Met Ball”) and features some 90 ensembles and 30 accessory pieces by the two groundbreaking designers. The show is meant to simulate a dialogue of sorts, organized into themes like “Ugly Chic,” “Hard Chic,” “Naïf Chic,” and “The Exotic Body” with Prada and Schiaparelli’s archival creations playing off of each other as if the designers themselves were engaging in a rigorous game of show and tell.

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) is primarily known for her affiliation with Surrealist maestros like Salvador Dalí (their collaborations include Schiaparelli’s famed “Lobster Dress,” a dainty white evening number studded with a bright red crustacean). But this presentation offers a more varied and comprehensive look at her ultra influential career — from 1920’s-era geometric shifts to studded blazers and pleated, ethereal gowns. Miuccia Prada’s equally striking offerings seem a more familiar trip down memory lane, including the spring/summer 2006 collection’s girlish embellishments and to a sexpot-ready stunner from spring/summer 2004 in liquid gold.

Shop Prada on Saks.com:


Helmut Head

The fashion designer-turned-artist has new models in mind

He may be best known for the pioneering urban minimalist fashion aesthetic, but Helmut Lang has devoted the past seven years of his life to a different form altogether: art. The fashion designer-turned-artist’s sculptures have been shown in Hanover, Frankfurt, Moscow, and, last summer, in both Venice (where he was included in a Biennale group show) and East Hampton (where he is largely based). Now, the designer-turned-artist is getting his first major local exhibition. Lang has quite a vote of confidence from the art world as well —the show is timed to coincide with the opening of the Frieze Art Fair’s first New York edition and is being organized by art advisor Mark Fletcher and peripatetic independent curator (slash art-world darling) Neville Wakefield. “Helmut Lang:…

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He may be best known for the pioneering urban minimalist fashion aesthetic, but Helmut Lang has devoted the past seven years of his life to a different form altogether: art. The fashion designer-turned-artist’s sculptures have been shown in Hanover, Frankfurt, Moscow, and, last summer, in both Venice (where he was included in a Biennale group show) and East Hampton (where he is largely based). Now, the designer-turned-artist is getting his first major local exhibition. Lang has quite a vote of confidence from the art world as well —the show is timed to coincide with the opening of the Frieze Art Fair’s first New York edition and is being organized by art advisor Mark Fletcher and peripatetic independent curator (slash art-world darling) Neville Wakefield.

“Helmut Lang: Sculptures” opens at 24 Washington Square North on May 5 and remains on view to the public through June 15. The 20 or so totemic pieces tread the line between found-object mash-ups and inventive sculptural abstraction. They are composed of readymade rubber discs (bumpers, of a sort) that are stacked into freestanding compositions that mirror, in some sense, a languid silhouette. They look like precarious, barely held together and on the verge of succumbing to gravity like an avant-garde Jenga tower, or, perhaps, a model teetering down the runway in heels.


Here Comes the Sun

Philip Lim and artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi on their in-store collaboration

As far as collaborations go, this has to be among the most organic. Phillip Lim’s team presented the designer with an inspiration board for his spring/summer 2012 collection and there they were: several examples of Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi’s dreamy film and photographic installations. “I really connected to the emotional quality of his work,” Lim says. “There is something very similar in our approach. He has this hand which is a ‘simple complexity,’ something that is inherent in my designs too.” The decision from there was a fairly simple one — Nakanishi’s work would adorn Lim’s spring/summer shop-in-shop at Saks. Nakanishi’s 44 photo-printed transparencies hang equidistant in an orderly row, fusing together to create the effect of a hazy, atmospheric landscape suspended mid-air. They are…

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As far as collaborations go, this has to be among the most organic. Phillip Lim’s team presented the designer with an inspiration board for his spring/summer 2012 collection and there they were: several examples of Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi’s dreamy film and photographic installations. “I really connected to the emotional quality of his work,” Lim says. “There is something very similar in our approach. He has this hand which is a ‘simple complexity,’ something that is inherent in my designs too.”

The decision from there was a fairly simple one — Nakanishi’s work would adorn Lim’s spring/summer shop-in-shop at Saks. Nakanishi’s 44 photo-printed transparencies hang equidistant in an orderly row, fusing together to create the effect of a hazy, atmospheric landscape suspended mid-air. They are a natural fit, dangling among Lim’s own creations which, this season, take their inspiration from “the freedom and fragility of kites.”

Nakanishi was not familiar with Lim before he was approached to collaborate on this project. (It’s not his fashion first, though: Nakanishi has worked with Comme des Garçons as well). But the artist was immediately impressed. The idea for the artwork itself came from his previous explorations of the passing of time. “For this work, I took pictures of sunrise at several intervals of time early in the morning for approximately two hours,” he says. And printed all 44 of them on transparent films. “I tried to express the link with the collection of Phillips Lim, about the freedom and fragility of kites, so the images needed to be more abstract and modern than my usual works.”

Projects like this, he adds, are key to his personal practice as well. “There are possibilities and potentialities for creating new things by sharing ideas, even when their vehicle is different. These kind of opportunities influence me too and have an impact on my forthcoming artworks”— many of which will be on view at Zurich’s Kashya Hildebrand gallery come October.