Prada’s new industrialization
Prada changed locations this season; and concept and mood and, quite frankly, the clothes were all the better for that.
The show was staged in the Prada Warehouse, the stockade of the house’s famed art foundation; so to the set was full of giant chipboard boxes, where the cast walked on a cut-metal catwalk.
“We wanted to enhance the industrial element in the Prada culture,” smiled Miuccia Prada, after sending out a collection so rigorous it almost looked machine cut. Her key idea was using Prada‘s signature element, its unique high-tech nylon, in clever new proportions and combining this with unexpected accessories.
Hence suits came with short skirts and big padded tunics; coats were cut voluminously in either matted denim or wool check, which morphed mysteriously into leather at the cuff and hems.
The house asked “four celebrated creative minds,” actually six individuals seeing as two were pairs, meaning Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec; Konstantin Grcic; Herzog & de Meuron and Rem Koolhaas to create unique objects using – what else? – black nylon. Prada will certainly win the prize for fashion’s most complicated invitation – an elegant box with a whole plethora of information; sketches, photos, mini essays and portraits of these minds.
But were the clothes any better as a result? Both objects and fashion were unveiled together in the warehouse, a new space CEO Patrizio Bertelli acquired two years ago in south Milan near the Fondazione Prada.
“It’s where we keep our art; inside those boxes,” he winked, nodding to the huge chipboard containers. Many of them done up with new logos, like a Sixties typo Prada, seen on many bags and crests in the show. Miuccia also showed some great overcoats in marvelous prints of mermaids, fish and lipsticks.
“We fantasized what might be in the boxes and then put them on the clothes,” added Signora Prada, who even placed photos of the individual models in miniature crests as well.
The Bouroullecs, somewhat predictably designed an art folder; Grcic came up with an “abstract” fishing bag, in part a homage to Joseph Beuys' well-known fishing vest. Now, as someone with a little experience of fly fishing I can assure the reader this contraption would not work in the majestic trout lakes of Donegal. While, the Swiss architectural duo of Herzog & de Meuron instead imagined an odd thing they termed a Language Restraint, a bulky woven nylon body harness. “Language has forfeited its enlightening competence. It has lost its seductive power,” they insist in an accompanying note. Those of us who remember the oratory of Barack Obama compared to the nonsense now emanating from the White House will beg to differ.
All told, a welcome change of gears for Prada, even if its return to classic black nylon did seem out of step with the governing maximalist mood in fashion.
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