The words you are reading right now constitute a medium on its last legs—at least according to Jacques Herzog. “Written text has lost its credibility when printed in newspapers and magazines reporting daily information from across the world,” says the Swiss architect, who, with Pierre de Meuron, makes up one half of the eponymous global architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron. “We don’t trust it anymore.”
Along with his cofounder, Herzog has been invited to channel this anxiety into an unlikely medium: luxury fashion. As part of its new Prada Invites initiative, the Italian fashion house has tasked four creatives with designing radical alternatives to an existing object or item using Prada’s signature black nylon fabric. (Paris-based design studio Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic, and Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas complete the lineup.) Though familiar collaborators—the architects have designed several spaces for the fashion house, including its Aoyama boutique in Tokyo—this partnership marks Herzog and de Meuron’s first foray, in the former’s words, into “the world of fabrics and patterns, buckles and buttons.”
Titled “Language Restraint,” the pair’s contributions include a T-shirt and a nylon shirt printed with blocks of blurred and overlaid text, and a jacket dotted with buttons embossed with letter fragments. To design them, the duo consulted ancient scrolls and coins and scrambled their written text, effectively reducing written language to a set of empty symbols and illegible patterns. “The prints on black nylon and the embossed buttons are remindful of archaeological fragments and finds,” says Herzog. “They express transience and expiry of whatever we believe will stay forever.”
Unveiled at Prada’s fall/winter 2018 menswear show in January, these pieces are set to arrive in select Prada stores in June, when shoppers can wear a stylized reminder of our current collective panic right on their sleeves.
See the other projects for Prada Invites below.
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Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s shoulder bag takes inspiration from portfolio cases, designed with strict geometry to contrast with its users’ movements.
Koolhaas repurposes the backpack to be carried on the front, improving accessibility and movement.
Grcic reimagines the apron as a high-utility garment complete multifunctional pockets.