Prada catwalk, Office of Metropolitan Architecture (Man SS 2012)

You may or may not know that my background is not in writing, or in fashion for that matter. I spent eight years studying fine art and architecture, both in which I still dabble occasionally (the former more than the latter). This long, and sometimes exhausting, academic ordeal made me appreciate Miuccia Prada, and the culture that surrounds the name PRADA, more so than any other luxury label today.
Prada 24 Hour Museum,  Office of Metropolitan Architecture (2012)
Prada is a culture, a clique for the discerning and for design-minded individuals that transcends way past fashion. Miuccia Prada is, to me, one of the most interesting individuals in the industry. This is a person that holds a PhD in Political Science, was an avid women’s rights activist, and who also, curiously, studied mime for five years before deciding to join her family’s business of manufacturing handbags and launching the label into the world of luxury. I’m not sure if this unique, non-fashion background has given her a different outlook on how we experience something so straightforward as clothing, but Prada single-handedly changed the game of visual presentation.
Prada “Magic Mirror,” Office of Metropolitan Architecture (2000)
To coincide with the launch of Fondazione Prada in 2002, Prada began enlisting creative architecture geniuses (I refuse to use the word “starchitect” as it makes me cringe as much as “fashionista” these days) like Rem Koolhaas of OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) and the dynamic duo of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (known simply as Herzog & de Meuron) to re-design the shopping experience, all with the same careful programming usually reserved for museums and libraries.
Prada Epicenter, SoHo, Office of Metropolitan Architecture (2001)
The inaugural project was OMA’s Prada flagship in SoHo, completed in 2001, a space that prompted exclamations like “Oh, you’re going to New York? You must see the Prada store!” from people that previously cared so little about the triangle-shaped logo that embellishes $2,000 handbags. Its space is vast, with very little devoted to the product, with a singular wave gesture making up for most of the store’s interior. The space utilized new “Magic Mirror” technology, also designed by OMA, a plasma screen invisibly built into the large mirror surface, allowing customers to see themselves both from the front and the back simultaneously. Koolhaas went on to design Prada’s Los Angeles store, countless runways, and the most recent project, the 24 Hour Museum. 
Prada Aoyama, Herzog & de Meuron (2003)
Perhaps the flashiest of Prada projects comes courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron, with their flagship in Aoyama, Tokyo. In comparison to Koohaas’ elegantly resolved interior solution, this one is a monster…but a beautiful one at that. This six-storey, sharp-angled shape, reveals its smooth, interior infrastructure through concave and convex windows (“bubbles”), and is visually aggressive, something necessary in a city like Tokyo. Inside, an almost clinical shopping environment: part store, part kaleidoscope to the great city.  
Prada Aoyama, Herzog & de Meuron (2003)
Prada consistently redefines the way fashion is experienced, whether it’s through her runway presentations, through her stores, or even (and this is not a stretch) through the label’s website — as a space in itself. 
Images courtesy of OMA and Herzog & de Meuron