MILAN — For once, the spotlight wasn’t on designers, models or other glittery denizens of fashion week’s front row seats. Instead, all eyes were on writers at Monday night’s Prada Journal awards ceremony, where Viola Bellini, Anabel Graff and Miguel Ferrando each received 5,000 euros, or $5,813 at current exchange, for their winning entries in the second edition of the fashion house’s essay competition, organized with publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore and Luxottica Group, Prada’s longtime licensing partner.
Another writer, Alejandro Morellon, received a special mention for his submission.
Prada Journal invites writers from around the world to ponder how vision shapes experience; participants then upload their works in any language to a special section on Prada’s Web site. This year’s winning wordsmiths responded to the 2014 prompt: “What are the signs of a changing world? And what situations can we envision? Taking a good look at the details might give us the answer.”
“Both Feltrinelli and Prada are committed to exploring new ideas — we try not to sit on what we have already accomplished,” said Carlo Feltrinelli, chief executive officer of Feltrinelli Group and himself an author. “Instead, we are always scouting for new talent, which is able to re-imagine a different world and which can give us a glimpse of what the future holds.” He noted this year’s submissions were written in 20 languages.
Hosted by actor Dane DeHaan at Prada’s Milan headquarters in Via Fogazzaro, the event began with readings by performers Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller and Filippo Timi, who each brought a different composition to life.
DeHaan expressed professional appreciation for good writing. “New ways of looking: isn’t that what all profound art, architecture, design and writing promote? A compelling work makes us look again, ask questions, think deeper, and push ourselves to interrogate assumptions,” he observed.
The jury included Feltrinelli, Tishani Doshi,Colum McCann and Paolo Giordano, author of “The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” which won Italy’s prestigious Strega prize in 2008.
Giordano explained that the Feltrinelli publishing team sifted through all the entries received, and the jury then examined an estimated 20 essays that made the cut. “Then each member of the jury read them independently and could recommend three,” he said, adding: “What was quite surprising was that we all chose the same ones — the same four, in essence” — hence the decision to award Morellon with a special mention.
He also said the winning entries stood out for their compactness and their high level of writing, as well as their distinctive authorial voices.
Their essays will be included in a downloadable Web anthology released Tuesday. Each entry will appear in its original form, with translations in English and Italian for essays not in those languages.