Prada’s Harlem Renaissance

In 2009, for a new project called The Iconoclasts, Miuccia Prada asked four fashion editors — including Katie Grand and Carine Roitfeld, then at the helm of French Vogue — to ‘rethink’ Prada stores in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Five years later, the concept will begin anew when, on the night of Prada’s fall collection (February 20) during Milan Fashion Week, W magazine fashion director Edward Enninful recasts two Prada stores — women’s and men’s on Monte Napoleone — based on the cultural, literary, and stylistic triumph that was the Harlem Renaissance. Surely there are racial connotations at work here. 

Overlapping with the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age, the Harlem Renaissance saw a creative explosion among the African-American community of Harlem in New York City. The waves started there reverberated around the world and launched the careers of, among many artists, musical greats Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Josephine Baker, who performed in all-inclusive cabarets like the Cotton Club.

Enninful’s vision, an imagined 1920s nightclub, incorporates a cast of black and white mannequins dressed in Prada spring 2014 and archive pieces, posing against a glittering art-deco bar. Similarly, a diorama at the men’s store will showcase black and white mannequins sitting around game tables, also dressed in Prada spring 2014 and archive pieces. The images above, not part of the spring ad campaign, have been newly shot by Emma Summerton.

The Milan installations will remain on view until February 24. Two days later, Enninful’s vision for Prada’s new Saint Petersburg store will be unveiled. We hope to see a reenactment of Stonewall as a less-than-subtle dig at Putin’s heinous anti-gay laws.

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