Museum Mile Festival

It was a classic case of dark clouds having a silver lining with the Museum Mile Festival this week. As with every year, the artistic arcade between 82nd and 110th was closed to traffic to allow people to flow freely in and out of the ten museums on this mile of fifth avenue. Music and entertainment were planned with balloons and street art and the joy of a summer’s evening. Then came the rain. The chalk drawings were washed out, the face painting and clowns had to relocate under scaffolding, and the jazz band cozied up with the architectural overhang of the Guggenheim. But all was not lost, particularly with the opportunity to go inside the Metropolitan Museum and see ‘Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations’ without having to stand in a queue. After seeing the Alexander McQueen exhibition last year – or trying to see it through the crowds, it was wonderful to go to this new exhibition and enjoy the space.

Schiaparelli and Prada is about the lives of these two remarkable women, comparing and contrasting their work, and the impact of their formidable personalities on all that is fashion. What really brought the whole show to life for me was the movie sequences that played on the walls behind exhibited pieces, giving background to the designs and depth to their creation. Judy Davis played the role of Schiaparelli ( 1890 – 1973 ) and she was brilliant. Prada played herself, and each sequence was a conversation between the two. They drank champagne, laughed, interrupted each other, mainly disagreed with each other, and talked about their lives. It was by far the best art show I have experienced at the Met.

Exiting through the Greek wing was slightly bizarre by contrast, but not nearly as much as stumbling into an art performance between the antiquities. At first it appeared to be a New York 15 minutes of fame event, with a young man making primeval noises and dancing, but it turned out to be an unscheduled performance ‘addressing the literal and metaphoric skeletons in the closet of cultural institutions along 5th avenue’.  Security obviously did not appreciate the gesture, removing the meditative fellow to the front halls and then to the door. By the time we followed him out, the rain had stopped and it was a beautiful fresh evening. The jazz band was just warming up….

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