In 1956 Richard Hamilton produced a photomontage called Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? It was a mash-up of “comics, newspapers, advertising, cars, food, packaging, appliances, celebrity, sex, the space age, television and the movies” and it’s considered to be one of the earliest works of the Pop Art movement. Hamilton’s collage commented on popular culture, mass-production and consumerism, precisely what Pop Art was all about.
So what has this all got to do with gem-encrusted bodysuits and pastel-coloured pleats as envisaged by Miuccia Prada?Prada’s latest Fantasy Lookbook for spring 2012 doesn’t just reference the 1950s and 1960s fashion revivals. It’s a faithful collage of pop culture of the day. The space race. Travel. The modern metropolis. Movies. Mass media. A line from James Joyce, a quote from Martin Luther King, a newspaper clipping referencing a traditional murder ballad. Advertising. The American Dream.
The look book seems to suggest that Prada’s collection wasn’t just drawing its inspiration from the aesthetics of the ’50s and ’60s but from how society saw itself. Perhaps those hotrod motifs taking shape on Prada’s heels, bags, and appliqués are actually representing progress and speed; if people thought the 1950s was speeding towards to the future at a scary pace, what about now?
Strangely we’re looking back at how another era looked forward into the future. We see ourselves there; just not exactly as they’d imagined us.
Creatively put together with photography by Phil Meech and art by Jereon Koolhaas and Lok Jansen, there’s plenty of detail to keep you enthralled for a while. And if you want a more concrete link between Richard Hamilton’s work and the Prada look book – whether coincidental or deliberate – google the former and look for a shirtless muscle man in both.