Prada Mode has finally touched down in Moscow.
The sixth installment of the roving members club, introduced by the luxury fashion house in 2018, was held in the Russian capital on Dec. 3 and 4, after being postponed once due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
It marked an artistic moment to remember as art sensation — and a longtime friend of Miuccia Prada’s — Damien Hirst was conscripted to mount a new iteration of “Pharmacy,” one of his seminal artworks first shown in 1992 at the Cohen Gallery in New York, for the event.
The installation was last exhibited in 1998 as part of the “Pharmacy” restaurants set up in London’s Notting Hill — for which Prada provided staff uniforms — and at the Newport Street Gallery.
Nodding to the original work of art, Hirst took over the four-story Levenson Mansion, a prerevolutionary stately building located in Moscow’s Patriarch Ponds area, with floor-to-ceiling medicine cabinets re-creating a functional pharmacy filled with furniture, molecule scale models, light boxes, butterfly paintings and wallpaper bearing catalogues of prescription medicines.
Prada Mode is a social club created to provide members with art programming, late-night music performances and dining experiences.
In Moscow, amid pharmacy-themed artistic paraphernalia, the luxury house installed a bar and restaurant.
“If you do anything well it can be considered art, Prada Mode knows this, and that’s why they create this cultural innovation and it’s an art installation to inspire and amaze, it blurs the boundaries between art and fashion and it’s a great place to hang out,” Hirst told WWD.
To his own surprise, the “Pharmacy” installation turned into a great social gathering space. “I just love the unexpected nature of things. Who would have thought that a pharmacy can be a great place to hang out and socialize and dance and eat? It’s as relevant now as it’s ever been,” said the artist, known for his provocative knack and art lexicon infused with social commentary.
“Of course, the meaning has changed to be more relevant today. We now have a much keener sense of what doctors, nurses, front-line workers and medicine can do for us as today, it’s become such a big part of our lives now and gives a sense of our own mortality, but I hope that the pharmacy in Moscow will offer us hope in these crazy and difficult times,” Hirst explained.
After the members-only club wrapped up, Hirst’s Pharmacy installation was opened to the public, running until Dec. 11.
Across the two-day event the Prada club offered panel discussions on various topics ranging from the reuse of past imagery and aesthetic codes under a contemporary lens to the phenomenon of art on paper and the evolution of the Russian urban landscape in the wake of modern challenges and sustainability.
Prada enlisted local cultural, art and social experts or scholars to lead the three conversations, including Ekaterina Inozemtseva, chief curator of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art; Ekaterina Pavelko, head of the fashion program at the Faculty of Design at the Higher School of Economics; film director and screenwriter Kirill Serebrennikov; Valeria Rodnyansky, founder of the Shaltai Editions gallery; artist Alexandra Paperno; Sergey Kapkov, director of the Center for Urban Studies laboratory of the Faculty of Economics at Moscow State University, and Alexandra Chechetkina, architect and managing director of Strelka KB, among others.
On both days the cultural conversations were followed by nightly events and an after party featuring sets from local DJs, drawing celebrities and talents from the country.
The inaugural Prada Mode was staged during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2018. The following year the itinerant format touched down at Art Basel Hong Kong and Frieze London, while in 2020 Prada brought the members club to Paris and to Shanghai, where the brand invited producer, director and writer Jia Zhang-Ke to transform the Prada Rong Zhai villa with a site-specific installation called Miàn based on his cinematic work.