MILAN — Prada is taking action.
In the wake of the lockdown imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Italian luxury company for the first time is collaborating with Sotheby’s to auction the garments and props used to stage the fall men’s and women’s 2020 shows held in January and February, respectively.
“Fashion has a duty not only to reflect its times, but to help shape them,” the Prada company stated on Monday, questioning the role of fashion in a wider social context, which is seen as a “meaningful and useful tool, to affect change.”
For this reason, the brand’s fall campaign, dubbed “Tools of Memory,” is offered “not as inert imagery, but as an action.”
Proceeds generated by the Sotheby’s auction, to be staged in the fall, will be donated to UNESCO to expand educational projects to vulnerable populations around the world. Prada has been supporting UNESCO with several initiatives and in February revealed it was partnering with the organization on an education program for high school students worldwide to raise awareness of, and promote, more responsible behavior toward the oceans.
Fashion looks worn by the models, photographic prints, show invitations and objects displayed on the runway set will be auctioned, becoming “totems” of the fall season.
For the fall 2020 shows, Miuccia Prada again worked with AMO, part of Rem Koolhaas’ architecture firm, which designed a fascist-style piazza at the Fondazione Prada and graduated arena seating.
For the brand’s men’s wear event, at the center of this surreal set was a monument that looked more like a flat-pack wooden toy than a mounted military hero on a pedestal, which created a graphic shadow. The set’s offbeat colors — mauve, red, pea green — mirrored those of the collection.
For the women’s show, the construction was the same, but Prada had the walls painted with bold flowers derived from Viennese Secessionist art, and she replaced the horse-and-rider sculpture that stood center-floor at the men’s show with one of Atlas.
The campaign juxtaposes backstage images from the show, with models ranging from Kaia Gerber to Gigi Hadid wearing the looks, and the items to be auctioned as part of a catalogue. Prada credited backstage photographers Daniel Arnold, Phil Meech, Kevin Tachman and Gigi Hadid; creative director and filmmaker Ferdinando Verderi, and styling by Oliver Rizzo.
“This is also an inevitable reaction to the impossibility of a studio shoot during the pandemic, a reflection and memory of this specific time when people were unable to come together, to commune to create,” Prada observed. “What we create today becomes a memory for tomorrow. That is especially true in fashion, runway shows premonitions of moments about to be lived, of styles about to be. Future histories. Clothes are mnemonic devices — they remind us of mood, of emotion and of experience. They are in themselves predictions of tomorrow, objects of desire, tools of memory. This Prada auction and campaign creates a memory of a precise moment not only within fashion, but in history — a memory that asserts usefulness and purpose in the present. A memory that can give back, to help the future.”
A few items from the auction will be unveiled today on Sothebys.com/prada, with more details to be released in the coming months before the full catalog is published online in time for the launch of the auction on Oct. 2.