Just in time for Milan fashion week, several major Italian designers have unleashed their talents on a rather unlikely surface: manhole covers. Twenty-four covers embellished by the likes of Missoni, Cavalli, Prada, and Emilio Pucci were installed on Milan’s Montenapoleone Street on February 24, and will remain until January of next year, the Huffington Post reports.
The project is part of an ongoing public exhibition called “Above the Below—Manhole Cover Art and the Wired City,” which has also featured manhole artwork by street artists including Shepard Fairey, whose work we must admit seems a more natural fit for the urban terrain. The project is sponsored by Metroweb, a Milanese fiber optics company.
The idea behind the project is to riff not only on the graffiti-covered facade of downtown Milan, but also on the fact that beyond the manholes, a web of wires and cables make up the city’s information superhighway. This is something few urban dwellers stop to think about on a regular basis. By drawing attention to something as mundane as a manhole, the company forces residents to consider the intricacies of their world (and, perhaps, they hope, the companies that helps make it all possible).
Past iterations of the project have been restored after the duration of the show and auctioned off at Christie’s, with the proceeds going to charity. We predict the international fashion crowd will go wild for this one—if not at auction next year, then certainly on Instagram during the upcoming fashion week festivities. After all, these days, there isn’t an art/fashion mashup on the planet that people won’t openly swoon over (see Will Art Fill the Runways at New York Fashion Week? and Converse x Andy Warhol Coming in February).
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