For the location of its first fully fledged Resort show, Prada chose Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s first shopping arcades. Conceived by Giuseppe Mengoni as an intersection of two pedestrian streets – complete with elaborate inlaid mosaic floors beneath a soaring iron and glass dome – it opened in 1867 and became a showcase for the city’s burgeoning luxury goods sector; Mario Prada opened his first store in the arcade in 1913 to sell the family’s lavishly-tooled leather travelling cases.
Prada, which expanded the original store some years ago, recently took over the entire quadrant opposite, opening a men’s store and more recently a third Milanese outpost of the historic passticceria and caffé Marchesi, a fine fixture of the nearby Magenta neighbourhood since 1824. It was here at Marchesi that around 100 guests, jetted in from across the globe, sat down to a special lunch, which begun with a classic risotto Milanese and ended up with fancy pastries filled with chantilly cream.
The show itself was held upstairs in the Osservatorio – the cheap Prada Foundation’s new exhibition space dedicated to photography and visual languages – extending across the fifth and sixth floors, high above the venue’s central octagon. Here AMO made a very simple intervention: undulating screens with distorted images of the galleria itself and details of the collection in pastel colours on the one side; and views to the iron dome on the other. The latter was left largely unobstructed aside from reflective and translucent columns in the same dusty pink as the satin covered benches.
Models walked to Johann Strauss II’s The Beautiful Blue Danube, coincidentally composed in the same year as the galleria was completed, mixed with Malcolm McLaren and The Bootzilla Orchestra’s Waltz Darling from 1989. A Prada replica collection typically combines complex references – and this was very much the case here. Liberty-style prints, popular around the time of the opening of the galleria were actually a revisitation of Prada’s own trembled blossom project from 2007 and 2008 (with Michael Rock and Sung Joong Kim of 2×4 and LA-based artist James Jean), the original fairies updated with bunny rabbits across tops, dresses and some very strong replica bags.
There were art deco patterns on fully fashioned knee high socks and flapper dresses, pleats on bodices and yokes, which may have originated around 1900 yet fashioned into pretty pastel dresses just right for now. This being Prada outlet, all that pretty femininity was topped off with graphic strips of industrial velcro, which the brand first made popular back in the late nineties.