Photography Juergen Teller

Five artists reinterpret Prada SS21

"The concept is something I have always believed in: that once I create clothes, they belong to the life of people. They belong to others. This format is a gesture -- meaning that these clothes are not mine anymore.”

by Osman Ahmed
15 July 2020, 11:56am

Photography Juergen Teller

As physical fashions have been replaced by online presentations, it begs the question: what purpose does a traditional fashion show serve? Yes, it’s nice to see the clothes in movement on models, and of course, there’s a sense of immersion when they’re set to a soundtrack and shown in a considered space. But really, the main thing is that every member of the audience has a different impression and opinion on a single collection. There’s a sense of occasion; conversations are started, reviews differ, a single look is reinterpreted in myriad ways through photography, magazine editorials, celebrity stylists, and ultimately, by anyone who walks into a shop six months later and decides what they want to wear.

The message of Prada’s latest collection was an ode to that sense of multiplicity. In lieu of an audience, Miuccia Prada invited five artists — Terence Nance, Joanna Piotrowska, Martine Syms, Juergen Teller and Willy Vanderperre — to create cinematic interpretations of a collection that itself had multiple ideas (all of them riffing on Prada-isms) rolled into one: Super-sharp tailoring! Linea Rossa sportswear! Lacey lingerie! Babydoll taffeta! Tennis whites! Prada nylons!

Photography Joanna Piotrowska

“We are used to doing fashion shows, but the moment you can’t do a physical show, you have to invent another work,” Miuccia Prada explained in a statement. “It is not what we know. So instead, we decided to give five different people, five different chapters, and complete creative freedom. The concept is something I have always believed in: that once I create clothes, they belong to the life of people. They belong to others. This format is a gesture -- meaning that these clothes are not mine anymore.”

The timing is prescient, considering the countdown to Raf Simons’ arrival at the Italian brand as co-creative director, which heralds a new era at the house, one in which Miuccia Prada is not alone in her Rem Koolhaas-designed golden tower. Consider also the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council that she instated after the backlash over a blackface keychain, which will be headed up by activist artists Theaster Gates and Ava DuVernay. Times are changing, so is Prada.

Photography Martine Syms

Here, each artist told a different story: Willy Vanderperre opted for modish monochrome, while Juergen Teller went for stark snapshots of models against industrial backdrops. Martine Syms echoed the collection’s mid-century references with cinematic references of her own filmed amid the bottle-green velvet seats in the Prada Fondazione’s theatre. “I say this all the time, but I really believe it: the world today is so complicated, so full of different peoples, countries, religions — you cannot have a unitary vision,” added Miuccia. “You create your proposal, and afterwards people react. The best way to get to know someone is to work with them. Your work and the work of others is the deepest conversation of all.”

So, although there may have been a lot of different ideas, ultimately the clothes came back to the idea of simplicity as an antidote to the increasingly complex times we’re living in. The five films ended with a ‘phygital’ show set against raw concrete walls. No elaborate set, no audience. “The clothes are simple - but with the concept of simplicity as an antidote to useless complication,” said Miuccia. “This is a moment that requires some seriousness, a moment to think and to reflect on things. What do we do, what is fashion for, what are we here for? What can fashion contribute, to a community?” The answer is creating a bigger table with seats for more people.

Photography Terence Nance
Photography Willy Vanderperre
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