Prada Transformer Opens in Seoul
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Italian luxury goods giant Prada unveiled its most ambitious cultural project to date, the Prada Transformer, in Seoul, Thursday.
Built on the grounds of the 16th century Gyeonghui Palace in downtown Seoul, the Prada Transformer is a one-of-a-kind tetrahedron-shaped pavilion designed by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture.
Designer Miuccia Prada and her husband, Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli, as well as Koolhaas, were in Seoul for the inauguration of the Transformer pavilion.
The Prada Transformer will be the venue for events devoted to art, film, fashion and of course, the Prada brand, for the next six months. Koolhaas described the Transformer as a ``dynamic organism,'' since the steel-framed structure can be rotated into four distinct floor planes: hexagonal, rectangular, cruciform and circular, to fit the specific events.
Bertelli said the choice of Seoul for the Transformer project is the company's recognition of the importance of Asia and its rapid development of business and culture.
Tomaso Galli, Prada group communications and external relations director, said the project represents the culmination of the Prada's long-standing interest in art, architecture, fashion and film. ``At Prada, the day to day work for fashion is to set trends and innovate every six months when we do our fashion shows in Milan, but today you have to go beyond that. This project is the way we can contribute to the world that goes beyond fashion,'' Galli told reporters, Wednesday.
The first event to be held at the Transformer is ``Waist Down ― Skirts by Miuccia Prada,'' featuring 65 of the most outstanding skirts from Prada's collections since 1988. The exhibit first opened in 2004 at the Prada Epicenter, Aoyama, Tokyo, and has traveled to Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles.
``Before the exhibition was shown in an existing space like a hotel or shopping district, so we always inhabit someone else's house. Now, we have created our own space. Here, it is totally free. The space was made to integrate the exhibition. There's a huge dynamism that we can enjoy here,'' Kayoko Ota, exhibition curator, told The Korea Times.
Ota said Prada unleashes her creativity in her favorite form, the skirt. With all the skirts that Prada has designed, it was difficult to pick which skirts to show, so Ota relied on intuition and picked the most eye-catching skirts.
Prada's skirts are full of ``curious contradictions.'' A skirt made of military uniform material has been embellished with glass beads and exquisite embroidery, transforming something utilitarian like a uniform into an utterly feminine creation.
Ota pointed to another skirt made of metal discs, which caught everyone's attention because of its noisy swishing sound. ``It's very noisy and in a way, very impractical, unless you're thinking of haute couture. But this is one unique point about Miuccia Prada. As a woman, she tries to have more courage and more fun. Why not? Why not make a skirt that makes noise and have some fun? ... There's also the clarity of idea. The other skirts may look simple, but the material is not. Sometimes, the skirts exaggerate motion and other times, it can restrict mobility as a kind of humor,'' Ota said.
The skirts are displayed in unique ways, some are spinning or moving from side-to-side, while others are glowing with lights underneath. A few skirts look like delicate flowers packed in vacuum-sealed plastic, while skirts made of rigid materials are displayed like sculptural busts.
Gigantic two-dimensional mannequins, which show images of skirts worn by models, are placed all over the pavilion's walls and ceilings.
Adding a touch of Korean flavor to the exhibition, eight skirts designed by Korean fashion students have been included. The skirts reflect the traditional Korean culture and aesthetics, but with a very contemporary feel.
At the end of May, the Transformer will be rotated to create a new cinema auditorium for the film festival ``Flesh, Mind and Soul.'' Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and film critic Elvis Mitchell specially chose the films to be shown.
The building will once again be rotated for the contemporary art exhibition ``Beyond Control,'' curated by Prada Foundation artistic director Germano Celant. The special closing event has yet to be announced.
Admission is free. Visit www.pradatransformer.co.kr.