Fashion has a duty not only to reflect its times, but to help shape them. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown of Spring 2020 not only affected the machinations of the fashion system – making it impossible to work in manners previously deemed essential – but posited questions about fashion’s place within a wider social context. The purpose of fashion, not only within a crisis but within culture as a whole, is as a meaningful and useful tool, to affect change.
The Prada Fall/Winter 2020 campaign is proposed not as inert imagery, but as an action – an online auction in collaboration with Sotheby’s, staged in Fall 2020. Proceeds generated will be donated to benefit UNESCO educational projects, expanding inclusion in education for vulnerable populations across the globe. The auction artifacts are drawn from the universes of the Prada Fall/Winter 2020 men’s and women’s shows: fashion items, alongside photographic prints, show invitations, pieces drawn from the runway décor. The pieces are one-of-a-kind, they are the physical garments worn by models during the fashion shows. Immortalizing the backstage process and on-stage performance of the fashion experience alike, objects normally consumed through image become talismans imbued with the memory of the moment that generated them: the fashion shows.
These chosen pieces become totems to the Fall/Winter 2020 season. The campaign visuals juxtaposes contexts, showing these items as part of the environment of the fashion show via backstage photography, and again as precious artifacts, presented as pages from an auction catalogue. This is also an inevitable reaction to the impossibility of a studio shoot during the pandemic, a reflection and memory of this specific time when people were unable to come together, to commune to create.
What we create today becomes a memory for tomorrow. That is especially true in fashion, runway shows premonitions of moments about to be lived, of styles about to be. Future histories. Clothes are mnemonic devices – they remind us of mood, of emotion and of experience. They are in themselves predictions of tomorrow, objects of desire, tools of memory. This Prada auction and campaign creates a memory of a precise moment not only within fashion, but in history – a memory that asserts usefulness and purpose in the present. A memory that can give back, to help the future.
On 20th July, a small number of items from the auction will be unveiled for the first time on sothebys.com/prada. Details of further items will be released over the coming months, before the full auction catalogue is published online in time for the launch of the auction on October 2, 2020. For more information, visit prada.com/auction.