Fashion by Design

Seth Oliver

                “Enough of sweetness, women need to get out there and fight again.”- Muccio Prada. The company of Prada is known worldwide for its innovative fashions and shocking styles. So why should their stores be any less of a phenomenon? Well they are not. The Prada Company takes great pride in all of their stores. They are considered to make themselves better and really showcase the artwork that is Prada fashion. Two of my favorite stores designed for Prada are on the opposite sides of the world from one another; the location in Tokyo, Prada Aoyama, by Herzog and de Muron and then the famous Prada Flagship Store in New York City designed by Rem Koolhaas (OMA).

                I would personally love to go to New York City. The design influence is all around in abundance. The fashion is impeccable and always the avant-garde style of the world. This being the case, the showrooms to display these pieces are equally as on top in the design realm. Rem Koolhaas (OMA) designed a very technologically advanced store in 2001. I think it is one the most interesting indoor space designs and really ties together the two floors. The half pipe takes up a good bit of the retail space along with a very large circular elevator in the front of the store. But to really showcase the design of Prada, something had to be different. The “big wave” ,or the wooden half pipe, is designed to be steps for clothing and also mannequins but then the space can be transformed with the push of a button to change the setting completely.  I think this is a neat idea, but too much might have been focused on the wow factor rather than the possibility of actually selling clothing. The space looks minimal in the floor plan, and having watched several Prada fashion shows through the years, I know they need more space than just what the wave can give them. But there are other features that make this pace notable as well and keep shoppers and tourists alike coming back for more. The dressing rooms look into the open space from above through a window that functions as a wall. This window had glass that turns opaque when an electric current runs though it to make it function more as a two way mirror rather than a window. The wall along the side of the store has graphics that could change every season to keep up with the fashion. This might have been the intention but it has not yet been realized. So I think this is a wonderful concept and should be studied by any interior designer. The object was to make the floors function as one space and it was completed. But the bottom line of a store is to sell the products. When the space is crammed and rather small, the clothing almost gets neglected. So as a design, I love it, but as a functional space, it might as well have been designed by Zaha Haddid.

                Tokyo is a whole different world than that of New York City. Still a huge city but on the edge of style that is way more conceptual and eccentric than the western world. The second store designed for Prada that really struck a chord with me was the Prada Aoyama in Tokyo. This design was taken after the Flagship store as another approach to have a fashion forward architecture. It is a very tall building that had a skin of windows in the shape of diamond scales. The windows change sizes and textures to make it a real piece to look at when passing. The irregularity of the store is something you cannot miss walking down this famous street. My favorite details about this structure all revolve around this miraculous skin of windows. The door even fit into the shape of the diamond. They are glass and transparent but only denoted by the larger diamond than the rest. The entrance is not individual or outstanding from the general façade. It blends quite nicely between the plain and bubbling windows. From the inside looking out, the windows change the landscape of the city. The convex and concave nature of the windows distorts the outside world and gives the impression that Prada is the only thing that is reality. This is a part of the store that I hope was intentional. It would actually help the line sell more things if,  subconsciously, the shoppers found themselves identifying more with the clothes in the store rather than anything in the outside world.  I think this is really clever and that more stores and designers should think this way.

  Prada is one has been a favorite of mine ever since I could remember. The amount of effort put into the whole company that is Prada is something to be admired. I can honestly say that I appreciate the designs of the stores so much more when I know it has all been planned out for a specific reason to showcase the art that is fashion.  

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