Prada’s AW10 campaign has certainly given us a fever. Shot by the legendary Steven Meisel and featuring some of the hot model talent du jour – Valerija Kelava, Daria Strokous, Sigrid Agren, Angela Lindvall, Mark Cox, Clement Chabernaud and Mattias Bergh, to name but some- the campaign plunges us into a sensuous nightclub world evocative of the early 1960’s, accentuated by the styling and this season’s collections.
The campaign very precisely recalls that interesting period in the early 1960’s when girls and boys still wanted to look sophisticated like their mothers and fathers but a presentiment of the pop age to come was already seeping through the cracks in a staid post-war culture. Furthermore, it was also the period in which Italian style started to gain something of an international reputation and following, the likes of which had not been seen since the late nineteenth century. First carried back to the USA by returning GI’s and later all over Europe by a new generation eager for fun and pleasure after wartime austerity, the early 1960’s saw a blossoming in Italy’s reputation as a culture with a sharp eye for natty styling and sophistication that need not deny fun. Can one detect a certain nostalgia in this collection; Prada looking to its roots in the post-war rebuilding period that once again put Italian fashion on the world map?
Captured in both the sumptuous vignette photos profiling the collections and the accompanying video in which Katey Judd’s rendition of the classic ‘Fever’ acts as a kind of soundtrack, this is a collection with an affinity for a very specific time. It was a time in which decorum, innocence and a coiled sexuality had to live side by side; a time when Connie Francis’ public behaviour set certain standards and her alluring eyes said something else entirely. In Steven Meisel’s campaign for Prada it is this denial of the graphic and the flagrant and focus on nuance and the romantically sensual that makes it all the more sexy. With a womenswear collection in which everything from the fluted and cinched silhouettes to the textiles seem to allude to the era and the narrow suited forms of the menswear collection do much the same, it also makes it the perfect art direction choice for particularly elegant and poised collections.
In the series of stunning images that will form the basis for Prada’s seasonal campaigns, the only differentiation is the use of black and white photography for the menswear campaign standing in contrast to the rich colour photography selected for the women’s collection campaign.
With a cinematic and dreamy feel, this subtle form of the nostalgic that never falls into the straightforward rendition of retro-culture seems to be something of a feature of Prada’s recent collaborations with top creatives. For example, this campaign by Steven Meisel follows a particularly beautiful film work by top Chinese artist Yang Fudong as part of the recent Asian SS10 campaign in which an equally creative vision of bygone eras acts as a stunning mise-en-scène for extremely contemporary fashion.