OMA and its research think tank offshoot AMO are old hands at designing for Prada fashion shows held at Fondazione Prada in Milan at this point. But just because the two are frequent collaborators doesn’t mean they’ve run out of ideas; far from it. For Prada’s Fall/Winter 2021 menswear show, AMO built a series of sensuous, fur-lined rooms; for the 2022 Fall/Winter menswear show, the firm went high-tech.
Inside the Desposito, the flexible warehouse-like space on the Prada campus used to host men and womenswear shows alike, AMO built a faux theater with the floors, walls, and columns wrapped in the same yellow carpeting. Instead of facing toward a stage, the seats were arranged in an orthogonal grid around the zigzagging paths that the models walked—the lighting inverted when the show began, setting the seats in darkness and carving out the route for the show.
The models entered through a bare rectangular concrete hallway that integrated the underlying materiality of the Desposito itself. Past the stark entryway, sci-fi inspired, airlock-like doors opened and revealed tunnels lined with metal caging and lit by neon lights, creating a dramatic unveiling effect.
The end result blended theater and technology in an expression meant to highlight how both play off and heighten each other. To that end, Prada also hired ten actors to model, as they portray false realities for a living: Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Asa Butterfield, Jeff Goldblum, Damson Idris, Kyle MacLachlan, Tom Mercier, Jaden Michael, Louis Partridge, Ashton Sanders, and Filippo Scotti.
Although grander in size and spectacle, the 2022 menswear show shares striking similarities to the ideas AMO explored for the 2021 Spring/Summer Prada womenswear show. Both clad the Desposito in tactile shades of yellow (though the 2020 fashion show enclosed a smaller portion of the space rather than using it to its full potential) and both touched on technology’s role in vision and experience. While the womenswear event was totally free of spectators and livestreamed to the world via obtrusive camera “trees” that the models had to navigate, the 2022 menswear show leaned on the theatricality of live performances and the power of stagecraft.
The full show can be viewed on Prada’s website.