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Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron venture into fashion design for Prada

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Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron venture into fashion design for Prada’s menswear. Rem Koolhaas's front-facing backpack is designed for accessibility. (Courtesy Prada)

Prada has thrown its 2018 fall menswear collection back to the 90’s, with a fashion show in Milan that put utilitarian black nylon front and center. Rem Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron, French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, and German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic were all invited to interpret the material through an industrial lens to create a unique item for the collection.

Fashion designer Miuccia Prada’s rise to fame was built on black nylon in 1984; in weaving nylon, typically used for packaging at the time and not clothing, into the landmark luxury “Vela” bag, Prada transformed the luxury brand into a contemporary clothing company.

The same waterproof “Pocone” nylon used in the original Vela bag was on full display yesterday at Prada’s preview of its Autumn Winter 2018 menswear collection in Milan.

Instead of flash or color, the focus was on form and usage, and the menswear fashion week show was appropriately staged in an industrial warehouse with a Prada twist. The storage facility in Viale Ortles, Milan, was plastered with throwbacks to Prada’s past and lit with blues, reds and purples by AMO, the research and branding studio of OMA. This isn’t the first time AMO has worked with Prada, as they also designed Prada’s 2017 Spring/Summer venue.

The AMO-revamped warehouse featured riffs on classic packaging symbols and an industrial catwalk. (Courtesy AMO)

OMA founding principal Rem Koolhaas contributed a backwards backpack to the show, designing a black nylon pack meant to be worn on the front of the body. The boxy container is meant to be first and foremost accessible, as Koolhaas notes that the convenience of a backpack is negated by having to take it off to access.

“The shape of the backpack has the convenience of flexibility, the location–the back–the huge inconvenience that it is fundamentally inaccessible to the wearer,” Koolhaas told Prada. In the same way the Vela bag advanced the backpack through material, Koolhaas’s pack was meant to be the next step forward in the bag’s shape.

The blocky Koolhaas-designed backpack keeps its shape regardless of what’s placed in it. (Courtesy Prada)

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron chose to focus on the clothing side, designing a shirt patterned with what looks like statements in English, but reveals itself to be gibberish upon closer examination.

Calling language useless, Herzog & de Meuron reduced words to nothing more than ornamentation as a commentary on the way untrue information has saturated our daily lives.

“It has lost its seductive power. There is nothing new, nothing critical, nothing true in language that cannot be turned into its opposite and claimed to be equally true. Language has become an empty vehicle of information,” reads Herzog & de Meuron’s statement to Prada.

Herzog & de Meuron’s shirt uses language as ornamentation. (Courtesy Prada)

OMA and Koolhaas have had a longstanding partnership with Prada, collaborating on everything from a 120,000-square-foot arts complex in Milan, to the Prada “Epicenter” in New York.

All of Prada’s 2018 Autumn/Winter menswear collection can be found here.

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