MILAN — Miuccia Prada’s curiosity and inquisitive spirit is reflected in the breadth of its ambitious and thought-provoking collections, now designed with Raf Simons at the Prada brand, and uniquely Miu Miu, named after his nickname.
One of the designer’s long-standing interests is art, particularly contemporary art, and her passion was channeled into the Fondazione Prada, established in 1993 with her husband Patrizio Bertelli. She is known for surrounding herself with a close-knit group of friends, artists, directors and architects, and, while relying on Rem Koolhaas and the AMO agency to provide striking and intriguing sets for her shows, she also opens up to new entries each season – note the collaboration with director Nicolas Winding Refn on the project titled “Touch of Crude” for the Prada Spring 2023 show presented in Milan last month.
The strong bond with artists – and female artists in particular – is also key at Miu Miu. For years, the company has screened its Tales of Women series, a collection of short films by international female directors, followed by conversations and panels related to films and the role of women in film, for example. Prada has previously worked with artists Meriem Bennani on the Miu Miu spring 2022 show and with Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg on the fall 2022 show, both in Paris.
This time, for Miu Miu’s Spring 2023 show, which will be presented again on Tuesday at the Palais d’Iéna in Paris, Prada is collaborating with Chinese artist Shuang Li, who has designed a video and scenographic installation.
Li lives between Berlin and Geneva and her work includes performances, interactive websites, sculptures and moving image installations, and intersects various mediums that make up the contemporary digital landscape. She is said to explore how various forms of technology connect us, and how they fit into a neoliberal apparatus that regulates body and desire. Her work is currently featured in La Biennale di Venezia’s 59th International Art Exhibition, dubbed “The Milk of Dreams,” curated by Cecilia Alemani and running through November 27.
While specific details about Tuesday’s show have been kept under wraps, in order to surprise guests, here Shuang Li explains how Miu Miu has become something of a manifesto for diversity and inclusion and female empowerment. She highlighted how Miuccia Prada champions “the individuality of the female artists she works with.”
WWD: How did you approach the design of the decor and the seats? What instructions did you receive from Miuccia Prada or what type of exchange did you have?
Shuang Li: From the start, I was encouraged to approach it as if it were one of my exhibitions with a living element. Instead of receiving direction, it was more of an organic development process between me and Ms. Prada as well as OMA and the entire Miu Miu team.
WWD: Is the set connected to the collection?
SL: The set was inspired by our desire to communicate, and I felt inspired by the brand’s overarching message of empowerment and femininity and all of its facets. I wouldn’t say it’s directly inspired by the specific collection, more inspired by the work of Ms. Prada and Miu Miu in general.
The timelessness of Miu Miu was born out of the impact of the 90s, an era that marked the beginning of an explosion of communication, individuality, etc., and which resonates in my work, and in many ways , still ripples through how we think of a new kind of classic, but also the current cultural zeitgeist – it’s no surprise that Ms. Prada’s sensibilities then are still so relevant and attuned to the present moment. . She champions the individuality of the female artists she works with and affirms the world they bring to the collection.
WWD: What message do you want to convey?
SL: In general, I am fascinated by the fact that we live in an age characterized by hypercommunication. We feel like our messages are flying through the air and arriving instantly at their destination. In fact, there’s a massive global infrastructure of undersea cables, satellites, and other hardware that works in an almost old fashioned way to connect us all. I’ve always been interested in glitches, messages sent but not received, and our desire to be close to each other and times when that’s not always possible.
But also works of art in general – the message they are trying to convey is usually not the message people are getting. I am constantly asked to explain my work and the cultural context to which it relates. But there seems to be so much to explain, and still so much that gets lost in translation, partially if not completely. After moving to Geneva, one day I was walking through the neighborhood and I walked into a cemetery. I tried to read the epitaphs in French with Google Translate. One of the translations said, “When you look at it Sky at night since I shall live, may I enter one of the stars. So it will be for you. Mom and dad.” Those sentences don’t make sense, but somehow they don’t need to. I’d like to think that’s how my job works.
WWD: How did you meet Miuccia Prada?
SL: Mrs. Prada, through the Fondazione Prada, contacted me because she had read one of my interviews, seen some of my works and wanted to know more. Of course, I was delighted to meet her and we developed a very organic connection.