Prada has always held a mythological status in the fashion world because it’s one of those brands that seems to define modern fashion by being anti-fashion. Much of its success and notoriety is due to the undeniable talent of its founder Miuccia Prada, who is part designer, part political activist and part art curator. Not only has she created one of the world’s most desirable brands, but also one of the most enigmatic.
In light of this, I was super excited when Prada unveiled its highly anticipated exhibition, Pradasphere, in Hong Kong last week (it first debuted in London in May).
While many people are quick to call it a retrospective of Mrs Prada’s work, it’s far from it. Instead it is a carefully curated collection of archival objects that explores Prada’s vision and the various worlds it encompasses from architecture and art to fashion and film. The setting, which was conceived by Prada collaborator and graphic designer Michael Rock, is best described as a series of mind-blowing visual displays and intriguing narratives, that will draw in both strangers and fans of the brand.
Housed in a custom built space on Pier 4 in Central, Pradasphere is divided into six zones, each of which are named after exhibits you would normally see at a natural history museum. Origins recounts the history of the brand which was established by Mario Prada in 1913 with a boutique specialisng in unique objects. In the Observation room one can watch a 20 minute video featuring several cinematic projects commissioned by the brand by renowned filmmakers from across the globe.
At the heart of Evolution is a digital display featuring videos of past campaigns, fashion shows (including their very first) and images, as well as a collection of books published by Prada on art and fashion (Mrs Prada established the Fondazione Prada in 1993 way before other fashion figures).
Prada of course is known for its ready-to-wear and accessories and these are the areas that are the most captivating for any fashion lover. Construction tells the story behind each garment and features a glass cabinet full of materials and samples that showcase the techniques and craftsmanship used to make them. Specimens is dedicated to Mrs Prada’s pioneering accessories from her nylon backpacks of the 1980s to her gravity-defying, sculptural shoes.
At the centre of the exhibition is Typologies, which highlights six major themes that have fascinated Mrs Prada for the past 25 years. Here over 60 looks are grouped under subjects such as modernism, excessivity (she does embellishments like no other) and one of my personal favourites, Femasculinity. What’s most striking is the fact that almost all of the looks are still as modern and relevant today as they were when they first appeared on the catwalks.
Not only is Pradasphere a feast for the eyes but also the intellect.
The Pradasphere is open to the public until December 5 2014 at Pier 4, Central, Hong Kong. www.prada.com