Clothes are objects of desire that remind us of emotion and experience: tools of memory of a precise moment within fashion and time, that on this occasion can help the future.
Prada x Sotheby’s “Tools of Memory” celebrates the importance of design across art and fashion today. Prada’s universe of understated luxury and transformative fashion will be showcased through an auction of Fall/Winter 2020 fashion items, photographic prints, show invitations, pieces drawn from the runway décor and vinyl with the accompanying music for both presentations by Frédéric Sanchez. The garments are one-of-a-kind, worn by models during each fashion show, immortalizing the backstage process and on-stage performance. “Tools of Memory” honours Miuccia Prada’s unique vision within the house of Prada, in which she redefined the world of fashion through design, art, architecture and how we understand luxury today.
I think that in this moment what I can do with my work is to do something that is meaningful, real, that can express various intentions, different meanings. The collections are about personality, craft, a creative contribution. The meaning and usefulness of fashion today: use and utility, function. Clothes as tools, tools for life - fashion with a purpose.
Miuccia’s final individual shows for fall and winter 2020 were a typically inventive response to the constraints of the moment: a season entitled Tools of Memory that produced, simultaneously, a streamed event, an auction catalogue with Sotheby’s of the clothes and a glimpse behind the scenes into the unique circumstances of creating a collection at a time when the fashion world has been hollowed out by the pandemic.
Debuted in January and February this year, Prada’s FW2020 shows transformed the grand hall of the Deposito of Fondazione Prada into two piazzas, designed by research and design studio AMO. An equestrian statue, an unnamed “anti-hero, and a representation of the Greek Titan Atlas designed by Rem Koolhaas formed the centrepieces of the Men’s and Women’s shows respectively and now appears as highlights of the auction.
Fashion has a duty not only to reflect its times, but to help shape them, to be a meaningful and useful tool, to affect change.
From layered fringes to deconstructed pleats, geometric prints, knitwear and shearling-lined outerwear, Prada: Tools of Memory features over 40 looks from the house’s FW2020 presentations. Each outfit is unique; the clothing, shoes, and accessories worn by the models for fittings and on the catwalk, such as a one-of-a-kind pastel blue dress with an embellished beaded fringe neckline, the dress was originally created for the show but the same prototype in a different colour featured on the final catwalk.
What Miuccia sends down the catwalk exerts a powerful influence on fashion across the globe. There is always something that is a jump ahead of other designers’ suggestions for the next season, such as her commitment to recycling nylon from plastic waste taken from the oceans or extracted from old textiles as part of the Re-Nylon project.
Photographic prints by Daniel Arnold, Phil Meech and model Gigi Hadid capture candid moments before and after each presentation backstage. Totems to the season, these shots as well as polaroid records of the models Kaia Gerber and Mensah Benjamin’s fittings, immortalise the backstage process and on-stage performance of the fashion experience.
Miuccia’s coming collaboration with Sotheby’s is another promising step into the future by a woman who is keenly aware of the past. In uncertain times, she remains a steady hand on fashion’s tiller.
Prada: Tools of Memory auction will raise funds for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and its efforts to safeguard learning for students around the world in the face of the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19. At the peak of the pandemic, school closures to contain its spread interrupted the education of more than 1.5 billion children and youth – 90% of the world’s students – disproportionately impacting girls and women, for whom education is often a lifeline.
Prada will donate its proceeds raised in this auction will specifically benefit UNESCO’s new campaign entitled Keeping Girls in the Picture and their Global Education Coalition’s Gender Flagship, which has been leading collaborative efforts to promote the continuity of learning during closures and ensure a safe return to school for all women everywhere.
That Miuccia should conceive of presenting her collection as a series of prints in an auction catalogue, as though the pieces have already been hallowed by time, comes as no surprise.
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