Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Fashion Heaven Rants Exclusive: Exploring Prada's Creative Galaxy at the Pradasphere

Far, far away from our galaxy is a stellar universe that cannot be seen with the naked eyes – even with the world's most advanced telescope. 

Unlike the universe where we are living now, the other realm is more vibrant and imbued with cornucopia of colours, shapes, materials, images, patterns and so on. In a way, the universe has given creativity a license to thrive without boundaries.

Now, if our constellation were made of stars, the moon and the sun, theirs were made of fabulous accessories such as shoes and bags in many shapes, sizes and styles. As we descend to the ground, what we will come across is a set of labyrinth filled with epic architectural marvels designed by architectural mavens such as Rem Koolhaas/OMA and Herzog & de Meuron. Venture into the streets, you may see an army of mannequins, all impeccably dressed in wearable arts catwalking all over the place.

Well, one may call it the fashion version of the lost ancient city of Atlantis but believe it or not, this is the universe of Miuccia Prada. 

Since the last 30 years, Prada has never failed to amuse and surprise fashion editors, critics and fans alike with her unique and outstanding take on fashion.

Though her works may not be as flamboyant as the ones churned by wunderkind John Galliano or as avant-garde as the haute couture creations of haute couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier, her take on minimalism with dash of subtle eccentricities and inevitable innovation has garnered her the position as one of the most influential fashion designers of our generation. 

And thanks to Prada, too, nylon, a material that once has less or no significance at all to the fashion world, had its status elevated to a grander elevation thanks to her iconic innovation, the nylon backpacks.

Recently, I was flown to Hong Kong on the kind invitation of Prada to explore deep into the depths of Miuccia's outstanding universe at the Pradasphere exhibition. First held in London in May, Hong Kong is the second stop for the exhibition and also, the first to be held in Asia. Held in a custom-built venue atop the Central Ferry Pier 4 at the Hong Kong harbour, the Pradasphere exhibition traces the multivalent obsessions of one of the world’s most iconic brands. To describe it from fans' point of view, it would be an equivalent to a fashionable heaven or temple that is chockfull with everything Prada!

In this unique paean of creativity and fashion, Prada vision looms large through a collection of archival objects arranged in specific methodology and curated approach. 

From the floor to the ceiling and the furnishing, the atmosphere reflects the sensibility of the hip 1960s with velvety green fabric adorning the walls and the chairs while classic chessboard print – a usual feature of the Prada store – adorns the floor.

“Pradasphere is a depiction of a collective, often exuberant, wildly creative design process.” notes New York-based designer and writer Mr Michael Rock, who worked hand in hand with the Prada team to conceptualise this stunning one-of-a-kind fashion spectacle. 

He continues, “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.”

During the media walkthrough guided by Mr Rock, the showcase is divided into six sections, namely Origins, Typologies, Evolution, Specimens, Construction and Observation. 

The Origins section traces back the history of the brand with a display of authentic artifacts from the period that Mario Prada opened the brand's first boutique in 1913 at the prestigious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade in Milan. Among well-preserved artefacts on display were combs and a selection of small leather goods.

The Typologies section serves as the highlight of the exhibition as it dominates the centre of the hall. There are six freestanding dioramas with each dedicated to a specific obsessions or fascination, all displayed in the forms of ready-to-wear collections that have been churned by Miuccia and her team, both past and present.

The Modernism collection represents classic and minimal composition – one of Prada's most notable design feature – with heavily embellished pieces; Figuration boasts a display of prints that range from the unique Trembling Blossoms anime-inspired prints to the pop art portraits that took the fashion world by storm last spring/summer; Continentalism pays homage to the European history with pieces such as chain mail dresses and sheer blouse with ruffle details along the placket; and Excessivity tests the limits of extravagance with rich detailing and meticulous prints.

From the six sub-sections, two caught my attention the most and they are animality, which boasts a collection of ready-to-wear pieces inspired and crafted in animal hides such as a full python skin jacket as well as the sex-crossing Femasculinity section which challenges the mind. 

On the walls, a long electronic screen projects multiple trajectories of Prada timeline, ranging from the men and women collection to advertising campaigns and fashion show spaces. There are also moving visual displays of art and architectural projects and other Prada events.

Adjacent to the screens, guests are able to see a display of architectural models from frequent collaboratos Rem Koolhaas/oma and Herzog & de Meuron that also include the renowned Prada Transformer project that took place in Seoul, Korea, many years ago. Next to the architectural showcase is a selection of books and exhibition catalogues featuring breathtaking visuals.

In the Specimen section, the selection of bags and shoes from diverse seasons, drenched in plethora of colours, silhouettes and adornments lucidly illustrate the essential qualities that makes Prada an outstanding fashion label in the sea of luxury brands. The focus on the painstaking design and prototyping process are also featured within the surrounding the vitrines.

Next is the Construction section where large-scale table vitrines are filled with precious, exotic, delicate handmade textiles and innovative materials that make up Prada's most exclusive design. Case in point: A latex-dipped Guipure lace transformed into a skirt, a top made up of colourful flattened bottle caps and a tank top that perhaps made of strung-together painted stones, drenched in bright yellow. 

A series of moving images drawn from runway footage shots are put on display on a floor-to-ceiling video display.

The last part of the exhibition, which is the Observation, is a screening room with a program made of several film/video projects produced in collaboration with Prada and renowned directors such as Ridley Scott, Roman Polanski and Wes Anderson. There is also a VIP room that overlooks the sea and the Kowloon harbour where the Q+A session between the media members and Mr Rock took place.

In line with its official opening, a huge bash was thrown by Prada in the evening on November 18 at the venue. A star-studded event to remember, the soiree was attended by celebrities, guests and media members from both Asia and Australia, who were all dressed up to their nines in Prada, made their way into the Pradasphere to marvel at the collections on display. 

Spotted at the event were actress Gong Li, model Amanda S and Hong Kong's fashion maven Wyman Wong. In between, multitude of air kisses and hellos were exchanged with smiles being flashed at the camera lenses.

Later in the evening, guests adjourned to the after-party venue at the lower deck where they feasted on lavish dinner spread made of fresh bounties from the sea (read: seafood) and drinks such as the fancy Fuoco, named after the oxblood-red hue that is exclusive to Prada. 

Just like the Typologies section that made the highlight of the exhibition, the energetic live performance by New Zealand superstar on the rise Lorde was the definite order of the evening.

Taking the stage in a glitter-trimmed Prada jacket and a white T-shirt, the Grammy Awards-winning music prodigy entertained the glamorous crowd with songs taken from her debut album, Pure Heroine, such as the chart-topping singles Royals and Tennis Court. 

The party continued to the wee hours of the morning with DJ spinning infectious rhythms and beats, amalgamating the sounds of Noughties with the anthems of the Nineties.

Million thanks to Prada for extending me the invitation to the prestigious event and for hosting me during my stay in Hong Kong, city of the Fragrant Harbour. Also, thank you to the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong for their superb hospitality and excellent service.

The Pradasphere exhibition is open to the public from now till December 5, 2014. Admission is free. 






*Photos courtesy of Prada


Pradasphere – Central Ferry Pier 4, Central, Hong Kong Island.  

1 comment:

  1. I love your post dear Shaiful. Beautiful memorie with Prada...

    xoxo Reagan

    ReplyDelete

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