A fashion show is constructed to promote a single vision, a world that takes audiences on a journey and gives them a glimpse into the mind of a designer. Of course, any visual medium is open to interpretation, but there is always a framework in place to offer guidance.
For her resort 2021 collection, presented in a video titled “The Show That Never Happened,” Miuccia Prada decided to dismantle that structure altogether. Normally, she would present the line during Milan Men’s Fashion Week via a runway spectacle, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, she had to think outside the proverbial box. Her solution: Invite five artists and photographers to create videos that showcased their own sensibilities—Prada through their eyes.
Divided into five chapters, each image-maker took pieces in the collection and placed them in disparate environments. First to the table was Willy Vanderperre, who shot the models in black and white, walking in blank space with stoic expressions as their bodies gradually became distorted with the fast-paced camera movement. “Stripped from fashion ideas, which turns that idea into fashion again. It also felt introspective and slightly schizophrenic,” the photographer said in a statement. “A look into the past with the future ahead. I hope that the audience feels that in the movie, a distilled pure and honest presentation of the collection.”
Next was Juergen Teller, who placed the models standing idly (also with expressionless faces) in a factory, the images then superimposed on close-ups of loud machinery, with their discordant sounds cutting through the piano score. He was followed by Joanna Piotrowska, who, like Vanderperre, took the colorless route. But instead of focusing on constant motion, her vignette centered on sporadic gestures. “The finger snap is a quick and subtle yet attention-demanding action,” she said. “It is also used to indicate approval or to maintain rhythm. I thought that this short could be an interesting space to work with the snap as a recurring motif that marks the movements and refocuses the viewer’s attention to each new look.”
Color returned in a big way with Martine Syms, who looked to the past to inform her scenes. “Since the collection pieces have a ’60s feeling to them, I tried to include several references to cinema culture and surveillance/sousveillance from that time period to the present,” she explained. “I’m inspired by the way screens have come to make and unmake us, and what it means to be living, breathing, moving fleshy things in a world full of them.”
And last but not least was Terence Nance, who was the only one to take Prada outdoors. “The film that came through was born of speed and play, I have no words through which to decode what the meaning is and was and will be, but it may be about ‘time’—and keeping your organs in that vessel we call a body while it contorts itself to love each second as it goes bye bye.”
Indeed, each video was different, but there were several threads that connected them: They were unorthodox, serious, and whittled down to the bare minimum. In fact, the same can be said of the collection itself. The silhouettes were tapered and the choice of fabrics had an industrial quality and were free of embellishments. It was as if Prada presented its essence—its core descriptors from when the brand first came into prominence in the 1990s—and let these artists create freely.
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