LONDON, United Kingdom — London department store Harrods and Prada are set to unveil a month-long exhibition and pop-up shop celebrating the world of designer Miuccia Prada and the recurring and intertwined obsessions of the house that she has built — from fashion and film to art, architecture and sport — alongside pieces from the company’s rich product archive sure to attract devotees of the brand.
The experience is comprised of 40 window displays; a 130-square-metre pop-up store stocking women’s leather goods, accessories, jewellery and eyewear, including a capsule collection developed exclusively for Harrods; a café created by Milanese patisserie Marchesi, part-owned by Prada; and Pradasphere, an exhibition on the store’s fourth floor that examines Miuccia Prada’s complex vision.
While the designer can appear to change direction from season to season, Pradasphere postulates that the Miuccia Prada’s work, in fact, repeatedly returns to several core concepts: beauty, taste, embellishment, gender, vanity and power. And it is around these recurring themes, rather than traditional fashion seasons, that this novel exhibition is structured.
“This is less about what the brand DNA is than, these are the obsessions she returns to,” said Michael Rock, the curator of Pradasphere and founding partner and creative director of New York-based design consultancy 2x4, which collaborated with Prada on the experience. “We wanted to, in a way, eschew all the typical divisions of a fashion system.”
“As much as I think you see a lot of stylistic variation in her work, I actually think that in terms of the ideas, they are quite consistent,” continued Rock. “Subjects like vanity or power or ambivalence — those are things that you see almost in all of her work.”
Concept aside, highly desirable products form the basis of Prada’s global following. And seductively displayed in wood-framed vitrines and on polished-steel and crystal shelves, all sitting on the brand’s signature checkerboard flooring, Prada products from seasons past retained all their original desirability, seeming to transcend the time period in which they debuted.
“You can work on both levels. You can have this incredible, visceral reaction to it — and the intellectual part of it,” said Rock. “I think that that ability to work on both levels is actually what distinguishes [Miuccia Prada]. Because intellectual would sound like the work is somehow dry or uncool or unapproachable, but I think her work is not that at all. It’s beautiful and sensual and sculptural in its own right.”
Pradasphere also includes a wall that brings the designer’s side projects to life, including her work with the Fondazione Prada, the company’s contemporary art foundation; a screening room presenting short films by Roman Polanski, Wes Anderson, Ridley Scott and Yang Fudong; and architectural projects created in collaboration with Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron.
One of the biggest tourist destinations in London (itself one of the most-visited cities in the world), Harrods has staged similarly impressive and immersive brand pop-ups in the past with some of fashion’s biggest houses, including Chanel and, most recently, Dior.