Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons Partner With Director Nicolas Winding Refn on Immersive Installation for Spring Show

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MILAN — Expect to be surprised yet again at the Prada show on Thursday in Milan.

Intriguing and innovative set designs are par for the course at the Italian brand, which has for some time been showing at Fondazione Prada, a space that is revisited season after season.

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For spring, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons have partnered with film director Nicolas Winding Refn on a project called “Touch of Crude.”

Winding Refn, known for movies including the “Pusher” trilogy and “Drive,” has conceived an immersive installation, the runway show’s physical environment in collaboration with AMO, and a series of interrelated film shorts, presented both digitally and at the show.

“Touch of Crude” hinges on the notion of observation, looking inward and outward from different perspectives, Winding Refn told WWD. This fits with the concept behind Prada’s women’s spring show, domestic voyeurism.

“I am surrounded by women, I spent my life looking at women,” said the director, speaking of his wife and two daughters who helped him ease into the domestic voyeurism theme.

He explained the “Touch of Crude” title by saying: “I am dyslexic and this can be a blessing, as I put words that don’t connect together, pointing to opposites, delicacy and roughness. Touch is poetic and sensitive, sexually evocative, it’s a very important thing in life — half the world went crazy without being able to touch during the pandemic. Crude because I am interested in the association with the unfiltered or raw, and a derogatory component.”

Winding Refn said, “This dialogue questions perceptions of artifice and reality — on whether we observe an act or, instead, view reality from within the performative space of the fashion show. The audience members themselves are transformed into active participants, their observation an action, their presence a response.”

The film shorts, with a soundtrack by composer Cliff Martinez, will be presented physically within the installation at the Deposito of the Fondazione Prada, transformed into a paper panopticon — a sort of observation tower — and a sublimation of a domestic sphere.

Similarly to Prada’s menswear show in June, the space, divided in four rooms, will be covered with a paper decor, although this time dark, no longer white as it was then.

Through hundreds of holes punched through the paper, guests will be able to catch some fragments of his films via thumbnail-sized displays hidden behind each puncture.

Winding Refn has also conceived the invitations — a box in which there are a little dark peepholes with invitation text inside and a black membership card customized with the name of the recipient, which will give access to the event.

From this experience, a short movie by the director will be presented later on during the season.

After the show, Prada, Simons and Winding Refn will engage in a discussion on the brand’s channels about their creative dialogue and exchange.

Winding Refn has been “doing cool things” with Miuccia Prada for about 10 years — including the “Soggettiva” series in 2019 at the Fondazione — but he was now ready to team for a bigger project “something exciting and fun, it was a natural evolution,” he said.

He touted the constant exchange of ideas with Prada and Simons and the creative process. “I usually work alone or in a confined area, but this was a collaborative triangle, it was super cool from my world of film, TV and mass media, stepping into fashion, from another point of view.”

As a true artist, asked about the end result, he said, smiling, that “with creativity, you never get to complete [a project], one day you just stop because you have to show the work.”

Winding Refn has been spending much of the summer between Milan and Venice, at the city’s international film festival, where he presented his thriller series “Copenhagen Cowboy” with Netflix.

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