Prada S/S14 & the German Expressionism


To get a good sense of the upcoming trends in the fashion industry and the creative world more generally, you can have a look at Prada's campaigns. Miuccia Prada is for me a strong visionnaire who manages efficiently to build a bridge between Fashion and Art. Prada spots emerging talents and anticipates / understands / creates trends.
Photography by Steven Miesel and film direction by DJA. 

German Expressionism is a pre-first world war movement representing this historical period's concerns for humanity and the ambivalent impact of upcoming modernity. Using a tough, bold very expressive and emotional way. In the 1920es, as the artists needed to adress the aftermath of the first World War, they integrated the horror theme. As a post-war introspection, they expressed their emotions over realism offering some kind of dark sanctuary to their German tormented souls.

The movement won renown for its cinema that has influenced generation of film makers. Its landmark is Robert Wiene's movie "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" in 1920. It combines dreamlike sequences, a strange alterated set design with abstract landscapes and architectures. 

One of the most famous film of this genre is Metropolis by Fritz Lang in 1927 taking place in a "futuristic urban dystopia" in which two people try to transgress class separation. It's said to be a pionneer movie for the Science Fiction. For music lovers, note that in 1984, the movie was restaured by the music producer Giorgio Moroder who added to it a soundtrack. It's a real delight and there is even a featuring with Freddie Mercury "Love Kills".

The new Prada F/W 14 campaign is openly influenced by this Weimar period of Expressionism. It features two strong characters evolving in a very architectural and shaddy space. The background is scaring and gloomy. An ambiguous relationship and a succession of sequences is taking the view through intense opposite emotions. Between joy and fear. You enter a wild and fierce environment on a soundtrack that could have been used in a horror movie.

dark gloomy background
ambiguous relationship
strong black & white architectural lines
Truth is, German Expressionism has always inspired many designers and artists. For example, recently both S/S12 collection by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy and Versace's Donatella paid a tribute to Expressionist Metropolis movie and its dark urban industrial universe. Same inspiration for Madonna's "Express Yourself" clip by David Fincher in 1989. Or for Ridley Scott in the choice of Blade Runner background. And the list goes on.

However, I feel the new S/S14 campaign by Prada really manages to create something strong and unique using with a Prada twist the codes of Weimar's artistic movement. One can bet that we'll see a lot of Expressionist campaign in the upcoming seasons.

Madonna - Express Yourself

Otto Dix - Skull from the War (1910)
To resume, German Expressionism..
-reaches peak time in the 1920es
-encompasses a wide span of creative fields from architecture to cinema including painting and sculpture
-shows fascination for modern urban life and its sordid expreriences
-uses naked body to express primal emotion
-emphasizes on personnal expression vs. stiff bourgeois establishment and social values 
-refuses to respond to traditionnal methods and appreciation of Art 
-startles the eye of the viewer with its genuine boldness

Emil Nolde - Dancer (1913)

Erich Heckel - Fränzi Reclining (1910)

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