Four industrial designers express the depth and versatility of Prada’s iconic Black Nylon in a special transformative collaboration that celebrates four decades of fashion’s modern classic.
By LAURA BOLT
Photography WILLY VANDERPERRE
Miuccia Prada is and forever will be the mother of reinvention and a continual bellwether. When she joined her family’s business in 1978, she was determined to imbue her work with a sense of modernity and mobility. Values she undoubtedly continues to carry with her until today and have become the very doctrine of her global empire.
Mrs. Prada eschewed conventional luxury fabrics the brand was known for in favor of something more rugged and experimental. The young designer began playing around with nylon, at the time simply used for covering and protecting luggage. A simple rucksack dubbed Vela was born and soon the unconventional fabric substitute would be used in everything from handbags to apparel. “I wanted to do something that was nearly impossible, make nylon luxurious. But obviously it made sense to people because, if you think about it, now black nylon is everywhere,” she said.
This newfound artistic territory catapulted Prada’s reputation as a world class fashion house that understood the real lives and needs of its customers, resolute to move the old world of high fashion into the modern and technological age. Equal parts experimental and pragmatic, Prada Nylon has become as influential as Marcel DuChamp’s Fountain in shifting perspectives on fashion from luxury materials to conceptual ideas. As fashion continues to challenge our expectations of luxury and desire, we look for new ways of uniting form and function.
Today, forty years later, Prada Black Nylon has become an iconic symbol of the brand and a timeless, yet avant-garde expression of elegance for today. As we get deeper into the digital age, re-conceptualizing the structural elements of the clothes and accessories we use every day becomes more and more relevant. We are constantly evolving as a community, reflecting a diverse sense of needs, lifestyles, and challenges. Consumers look to the fashion world as a beacon, showing us what is possible and how to be a better, true version of ourselves. This conversation between our shifting technological, personal, and social needs is what fashion is all about. Prada did just that: challenging four diverse creators to reinterpret Black Nylon.
Dubbed ‘Prada Invites’, the selection of designers and architects reflects the industrial underpinnings of both the Prada identity and the Nylon heritage. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, Herzog and de Meuron, and Rem Koolhaas were all tasked with designing a unique item using Black Nylon, highlighting its poetic, practical, technical, and aesthetic aspects. They were given total creative control to achieve the stylistic application of Black Nylon they felt the world needed right now, considering the ever changing demands of a modern consumer. The resulting creations are a fascinating comment on where we’ve come in the past four decades, and where we can look forward to going in the future.