Prada: A cosmos of its own
composed of heavenly bodies
set in a complex orbit.
A universe of contradictions
and endless elaborations—
noble causes and base temptations—
where idealism meets vanity,
intelligence meets passion,
fashion meets fiction.
Welcome to the Pradasphere
“Any modern city shop, with its elegant vitrines where useful and delightful objects are displayed, is more aesthetically pleasing than even the most praised passé exhibition. A metallic-white, tri-lucent sleek, super clean electric flatiron delights the eye more than a puny nude statuette perched on a worn-out pedestal repainted for the occasion. A typewriter is more architectonic than the buildings celebrated in academies and competitions. The windows of the perfume shop too, filled with boxes large and small, little bottles, and tiny future triple-colored phials, all reflected in extremely elegant mirrors; the clever and coquettish arrays of delicate ladies’ shoes; the bizarre ingenuity of multi-coloured umbrellas; fur, leather goods, silverware, all please the eye more than the grimy little paintings nailed to the grey walls of the passé painter’s studio.”
Giacomo Balla, Futurist Universe, 1918
This May, Harrods Knightsbridge, the world’s most famous department store, hosts Prada as an honoured guest. The month-long celebration includes 40 window displays, a pop-up store, multiple screen displays, an elegant Marchesi cafe, and Pradasphere: an exhibition that traces the company’s multivalent obsessions—from fashion and accessories to art, architecture, cinema, sport and beyond.
Housed on the Fourth Floor of Harrods, Pradasphere is a collection of archival objects arranged to reveal the complex, often intertwined obsessions of Prada. The Prada vision is manifest in everything from fashion and accessories to art, architecture, film, and culture. Pradasphere posits that there are core ideas—beauty, taste, embellishment, gender, vanity, and power—that are repeatedly reworked through those diverse channels. The Prada oeuvre represents both an aesthetic journey and a critique enacted through the products of culture. Yet it is also an unabashed celebration of exquisite 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 ensembles from multiple collections to demonstrate the recurrent concepts present in the products. In addition, the exhibition includes: heritage items from the Prada archives; shoes and bags from past collections organised by theme; examples of exquisite fabrics and materials; a Prada history wall that links the design collections with all of the extracurricular projects, from Fondazione Prada to Luna Rossa; a screening room presenting short films from directors such as Roman Polanski, Wes Anderson, Ridley Scott, and Yang Fudong; architectural projects from Rem Koolhaas/oma and Herzog & de Meuron; and a library of publications, both physical and digital.
A private lounge is adjacent to the exhibition space. The walls and ceiling of the intimate room are wrapped entirely in deep green velvet that matches the Clover Leaf sofas—a revival of Verner Panton’s modern classic reproduced exclusively for Prada—that furnish the space. The contrast created between the black-and-white carpeted floor and the velvet-covered walls adds to the aura
of contemporary luxury.
PRADA POP-UP STORE
The 130m2 Prada pop-up store is on the Ground Floor adjacent to the entrance at the corner of Brompton Road and Hans Crescent. Designed in classic Prada style, the shop features an iconic black-and-white-chequered marble floor, slim polished-steel and crystal display shelves, striking black marble portals, steel and crystal display counters, and lilac velvet ottomans. The boutique showcases women’s leather goods, accessories, jewellery and eyewear.
Harrods’ windows represent Prada’s multifaceted identity. The hybrid approach, a quintessential feature of Prada’s design philosophy, is evident in the recurrent themes and motifs combined in each tableau. The windows serve as an index of classic store elements, from marble floors to green ‘sponge’ walls. The windows also reference Prada’s contributions to popular culture, art, architecture, and film, revealing the complexity of the company’s approach to fashion.
Directly alongside the Pradasphere exhibition, against a backdrop of the London skyline, is the Marchesi cafe, patisserie, and restaurant. Marchesi is a legendary Milanese patisserie founded in 1824, renowned for its wide range of delicious pastries, chocolates, and Panettone, the traditional Milanese Christmas cake. The original architecture of the balcony room, with its exquisite boiserie and subtle lighting, has been preserved for the temporary cafe. The wallpaper covering the bar counter features exact replicas of the details and decorations found at the original Marchesi patisserie, and the bar mirrors display images of its early 20th-century splendour. Opposite the bar, a wall with mirrors and crystal-lined alcoves presents a selection of Marchesi products and a display of boxed delicacies.
Pradasphere is a collaboration between Prada and 2x4 New York
Pradasphere at Harrods will be open from May 2 – 29, 2014 at the world famous Knightsbridge store. To find out more about Pradasphere at Harrods, go to www.harrods.com and follow @Harrods @Prada #Pradasphere.