Another stunning Spring day in New York. Today the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts are on the menu.

So I make my way down towards Museum Mile.

I am greeted by a flea market down Broadway as I make my way through as inconspicuously as I can, not hard considering the throngs of people already gathering around even though it is only half past ten on a Saturday morning. I decide to swing past NBC Studios and Rockefeller Center to stroll down Fifth Avenue. Just as I turn the corner on 51st Street, I stumble onto a movie set; crowd control notwithstanding.

New Yorkers are surprisingly patient yet impatient all at the same time. They won’t wait for traffic and will jaywalk like there’s no tomorrow, which suits this serial jaywalker just fine; but they will tell you nicely they are shooting a movie, and politely request you move out of their shot. Please. And they are so used to people walking while on their phones either texting or talking that they will wait and walk around you.

I keep walking and discover a book market by Central Park, and take a slight detour to leisurely thumb through all kinds of books. Then I continue walking past Central Park zoo.

And up near 69th Street, another movie set. A smaller one this time.

And on 70th Street, The Frick Collection.

Then past a photoshoot on the corner of 72nd Street.

A busy day in the city that never sleeps! And I’ve only been walking a little over half an hour, book market detour perhaps unaccounted for.

My first glimpse of The Metropolitan Museum of Art on 80th Street takes my breath away. I’m in for a treat. The Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition of ‘Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations’ is on showcase. Well, I must come back and see that!

But for now, I press on. Until I arrive at the big one. And then there she is, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 88th Street; The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum.

A good half an hour or so basking in the foyer and outdoor area of the Gug, as she is affectionately known, as I sit and watch the world go by. I am saving my afternoon for the Met. A crowd gathers outside the Gug predominantly drawn to the little hot dog and pretzel cart conveniently and strategically parked right outside the doors.

People snacking and chatting, meeting friends before pressing on. And suddenly I find myself engaged in conversation with a Nordic couple and their twenty-something year-old son as we watch an aircraft sky write the words ‘Happy’ across the perfectly cloudless blue sky. Our conversation centers around what we think it’s trying to say. But my companions bid me a ‘happy’ day (no pun intended) and head on their way. And I, eager for Prada and the Met, decide to do the same.

And so back to The Met where you could spend hours, literally. And I did; lost in the maze of the building walls and rooms, discovering, and thrown back in time and space.

Then, saving the best for last, onto Gallery 199 to view the ‘Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations’ exhibition.

This showcase, exclusive to the Met’s Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition, sheds new light on some of the most ingenious masterpieces of two style icons, Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada.

The exhibition is inspired by Miguel Covarrubias’ ‘Impossible Interviews’ for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, and mimics the concept of cleverly orchestrating what would have been conversations between the two women had they been in the same room. Produced by visionary director Baz Luhrmann, this delightful chef d’oeuvre looks at the remarkable affinities both designers portrayed, yet through different approaches.

But it is this quote by Schiaparelli that moves me:
“Many men admire strong women but they do not love them. Some women have achieved a combination of strength and tenderness but most of those who have wanted to walk alone have, in the course of the game, lost their happiness.”

When I finally emerge into sunlight, I realize I had spent more than four hours within the massive building. My god, it’s like its own city! And I have this sudden yearning to shop at Prada. Hmm. Subliminal. Where’s a magic wand and a platinum credit card when a girl needs one?

Instead, a pretzel on the steps of The Met in the sun will have to do for today. The steps are peppered with people from all walks of life, watching the world go by. Similar in fashion to the scene I’d witnessed earlier at the Gug, complete with own pretzel and hot dog carts, but on a much larger scale. A completely bigger production! The building steps are architectured almost as if arms inviting you in, enticing you up into the mouth of her doors, beckoning you inside. And there is ample space and broad sidewalks to stretch your legs.

On the walk back, I leisurely stroll down Museum Mile.

And down Fifth Avenue, curiosity compels me to detour slightly and pop into Trump Tower.

The vast use of breccia pernice marble, brass, and mirrors throughout the building is reminiscent of ostentatious European architecture and not quite my cup of tea. And even the indoor waterfall overlooking the atrium does nothing to soothe my senses, nor the symmetry of its surroundings.

Slightly overwhelmed and unable to comprehend the need for such capricious ostentatiousness, I raise the white flag and take my leave, and head back for a walk through Central Park, where, on a stunning day like this, is peppered with people every which way. I am catching the last rays of sun before a last dinner in this megacity.

Running out of time and not wanting to leave,

Text and images: Nina Mostafa

Copyright © TheAustralien 2012