Photographed by Tom Sibley. 

When it comes to challenging the norm, Miuccia Prada is no shrinking violet. So, it seems only fitting for Barneys to pay homage to the designer and her legendary Italian fashion house with a window display that is unabashedly thought-provoking.

Last week, we whetted your appetite with four photographs of the buzzed-about installation, and today, we’re here to offer up the main course: close-ups of the windows in stunning detail, a making-of video, and a Q&A with Creative Director Dennis Freedman. Buon appetito! 

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What was the original inspiration behind the Prada windows?
We started by looking at the inspirations that informed Miuccia Prada’s shows—both men’s and women’s collections—and saw that she was influenced by the 20th century German avant-garde, specifically, the choreographer Pina Bausch and the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. We wanted to take the themes she was responding to but make them our own, bringing in our own references.

Behind the scenes making-of the Barneys New York Prada windows. 

How did you put this Barneys twist on Prada’s legacy?
Our theatrical tableaus draw inspiration from another multi-talented theater director, set designer, and artist called Tadeusz Kantor. We had the idea of exploring the relationship between two people. They are abstract scenes in which the couple never makes eye contact, and there always some sort of distance between them. Miuccia is an intellectual designer interested in exploring the complexities of life. She constantly poses the questions: what’s beautiful? what’s ugly?—and she isn’t afraid to talk about the dark spaces.

What kind of roles do the plaster-cast figures play?
We didn’t want to use traditional mannequins. Our intent was to create bodies and faces that reflect the true character and beauty that comes with age, so these were painstakingly cast from life over many, many hours.

Why was that of chief importance?
We hope that when people see the windows, they see beauty in the texture of a face that has lived.

How does this installation reflect Barneys’ creative spirit?
I think that this is a very important project for a store like Barneys. We aren’t like any other stores; we don’t think like other stores. I like to think that we approach things in a very different way, and I think one of those ways is to challenge our audience: the street.

How have the reactions to these windows been different from previous installations?
This installation wasn’t about spectacular, beautiful color or kinetics—we’ve done a lot of that. I think people have been drawn to the psychological and emotional aspects of these windows. The people stopping by are look more intensely at the windows—at night especially, these people are really looking, engaged in a different way. Some are trying to analyze what is going on between each of the two people. These Prada windows seem to make a deep connection with the onlookers’ own lives.

All photographs by Tom Sibley.

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