The renovated London one-bedroom duplex could be yours for $38,000, (£28,000) if those GUCCI initials don’t send a chill down your spine
“Not a bad way to earn £28,000,” said the Italian designer Miuccia Prada after unveiling her latest exhibition at London’s ICA. The exhibition brings together a number of recent Prada-branded exhibits in a one-bedroom house that symbolises the designer’s creative muse and most enduring consumer product, her accessories.
It is also, unsurprisingly, rather tacky, more reminiscent of the posh south London neighbourhood of Belsize Park than central London. For that reason, it is perhaps unsurprising that the exhibition has been dubbed the House of Gucci. The house is here to make a profit and shows just how little Prada has discovered about the art of the clutter.
Named Prada 31/33 (Prada presents to the 33rd year of her identity, which she debuted in 2008), it is a one-bedroom converted Victorian house with gilded mouldings, gold-lit bookshelves and a chandelier hung with elaborately sequined earrings. “The Old Houses reflect the abstractness and aesthetic and melancholy of life,” says Prada. “What I meant by ‘Old Houses’ is an aesthetic of elegance and exclusivity, a nod to the sophisticated nature of the magic and mystery of the London traveller.”
A pre-war hoarder’s folly with a high-quality DIY extension, the house was designed in the 1920s and bought by German couturier Karl Lagerfeld who lived here during the 1950s. It then became his headquarters. During the Soviet era, it served as a Soviet Fashion Institute – an appropriate title considering today’s design students are likely to spend two-and-a-half years in some manner of style-led amateur fashion show before buying their first Gucci key.
Inside the House of Gucci. Photograph: ICA
The exhibition, which opens on Tuesday and is due to run until 31 August, features signature pieces such as the heirloom felt hat and herringbone scarf, pieces that have already been showing in Prada Pradamalia – a series of unconstructed “shoes” – at Harrods and are scheduled to go on display in Hong Kong and Tokyo this autumn.
“When you see these shoes,” says Prada, “it’s a human impression in the moment and the moment is passing, but you have to work hard to retain the feeling, of sensation and anticipation.” The shoes are a piece of the designer’s bricolage that draws from her youth, her classical influences and her homage to Flemish designer Filippo Boccioni.
The space, while certainly whimsical, does not attempt to authenticate the presence of the House of Gucci. Although these items are reminders of the collections, which are assembled for retail outlets and collaborations, the exhibition alludes to the omnipresence of print and the global reach of the designer herself.
This cache of heritage details is a reminder that Prada is more than just a sum of her initials. Her limited-edition and nostalgic “unwearable” Prada line is destined to launch this summer in her hometown of Florence with an exhibition, perhaps the first to include a long-lost pair of Prada-branded shoes.