Pradasphere, a special exhibition exploring the universe of Prada, is unveiled on November 18th in Hong Kong, situated on the top of Central Ferry Pier 4, with dramatic views across the harbour to Kowloon. Debuted in London in May 2014, the exhibition traces the multivalent obsessions of one of the world’s most iconic brands.
Conceived as a natural history of Prada, Pradasphere is a collection of archival objects arranged to reveal the complex, often intertwined, references of Miuccia Prada, her atelier, and a tight-knit circle of collaborators. The singular Prada vision is manifest in everything from fashion and accessories to art, architecture, film, and culture. Pradasphere posits that there are core ideas engaging beauty, taste, embellishment, gender, vanity, and power, which are repeatedly reworked through those diverse channels. The Prada oeuvre represents both an aesthetic journey and a critique enacted through the products of fashion. But it is also an unabashed celebration of exquisite materiality and craftsmanship, a paean to the rare and the finely wrought, and a wholehearted endorsement of the stylistic iconoclast.
The centrepiece of Pradasphere comprises six towering showcases dedicated to the central themes that have distinguished the work of Prada. The displays combine work from diverse collections to demonstrate the recurrent concepts present in the work. In addition, the exhibition includes: heritage items from the Prada archives; shoes and bags from the past collections organized by theme; examples of exquisite fabrics and materials; Prada history timeline; a screening room presenting short films; architectural projects; and a library of publications.
Each of the sections follows a specific methodology and curatorial approach:
ORIGINS – includes authentic artifacts from the period that Mario Prada opened the first boutique in 1913 in Milan’s prestigious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ii shopping arcade. The casework follows the design of the elegant displays that Prada has preserved at the original site.
TYPOLOGIES – dominates the centre of the hall, with six freestanding dioramas each dedicated to a specific obsessions or fascination.
– Modernism: Classic, minimal composition.
– Figuration: The passion for prints.
– Continentalism: Homage to European history.
– Excessivity: Testing the limits of extravagance.
– Animality: Inspiration from the natural world.
– Femasculinity: The crossover of the sexes.
EVOLUTION – is a detailed Prada timeline divided into multiple trajectories on a long electronic screen. The timeline juxtaposes men’s and women’s collections, as well as accompanying advertising campaigns and fashion show spaces, with art projects, architectural projects, and other special Prada events. In addition, adjacent display cases house architectural models from frequent collaborators Rem Koolhaas/OMA and Herzog & de Meuron, books, exhibition catalogues, and other ephemera.
SPECIMENS – brings together shoes and bags from diverse seasons and recombines them to illustrate essential qualities that run through all collections. Surrounding vitrines focus on the painstaking process of design and prototyping that goes into every product.
CONSTRUCTION – includes a floor-to-ceiling video display that organises many of Prada’s most iconic looks by colour. The moving images are all drawn from runway footage shot during the fashion shows. Large-scale table vitrines present the precious, exotic, delicate, handmade textiles and innovative materials that make up Prada’s most exclusive designs.
OBSERVATION – is a screening room with a program of some of Prada’s most ambitious film/video projects produced in collaboration with directors including Ridley Scott, Roman Polanski, and Wes Anderson.
Curated by Prada creative director Fabio Zambernardi in collaboration with New York-based designer and writer Michael Rock and his studio 2×4, the exhibition attempts to reveal something of the Prada method. “Pradasphere is a depiction of a collective, often exuberant, wildly creative design process." notes Rock. “It is a story told primarily through things because design is a way of making in the world. And these things are extraordinary, both in their sensuality and as the manifestation of critical issues engaged by design that deals with the body—especially the female body—in such a direct way." Revolving around these diverse references and influences, heritage and history, the iconic and the idiosyncratic, Pradasphere portrays a disruptive approach to design, style, art, and culture that is unique in the world of fashion today.
Pradasphere is free and open to the public from November 19, 2014 to December 5, 2014.