Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Schiaparelli and Surreal Things

If you are like me and swoon when you hear the name Schiaparelli, you must find you way to Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario and see the Surreal Things show before August 30, 2009.

This exhibition, which was curated by Ghislaine Wood of the Victoria and Albert Museum, surveys the contribution of surrealists to fashion, design, photography, advertising, architecture, and theatre.

From the moment I walked into the gallery and took in the display of the fantastical ballet costumes designed for Les Ballet Russes by Giorgio de Chirico in 1929, I was grinning from ear to ear. Why had no one mentioned that fashion, costumes and jewelery were an integral part of this world class exhibit? I'm sorry that I did not go sooner.

I was blown away to stand in front of the bird cage and wooden mannequin from Schiaparelli's Paris storefront as well as twelve of her couture designs, including the infamous Skeleton Dress which features padded quilting to emphasize the ribs and spine. I almost fainted when I noticed the delicate sketches by Salvador Dali for his collaboration with Schiaparelli for the Skeleton Dress and the Dress with Drawers.

Other highlights in the exhibition included the Horst photo called Girl with Mainbocher Corset (1939), and the Man Ray photo called Model in a Dominguez Wheelbarrow (1937) where the model wears a Vionnet evening gown.

There was no doubt in my mind after seeing this exhibition that the surrealists were well acquainted with glamour and fashion. I bought the book Surreal Things (cover shown below) and intend to read it carefully before going back for another look-see. There is also a video clip on the ago website with an introduction by the curator.

Join me if you can. You won't be disappointed! By the way, this exhibition originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2007 before travelling to the Museum Boijmans Van Reuningen in Rotterdam and the Guggenheim Museum in Bibao in 2008. Toronto is its final stop!

Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario
1-877-225-4246 or 416-979-6648