The Prada Foundation Opens a Stunning New Cultural Center in a Restored Shanghai Mansion

The Italian luxury fashion house has launched Prada Rong Zhai, a new cultural institution in one of China's most populous cities.

The exterior of Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai. Courtesy of Prada.

Miuccia Prada has often been quoted as saying, “My job is to sell.” Beneath that sly bit of lip service, however, abides a true love and appreciation of the arts. For the last 20 years, the designer has nurtured a connection to the cultural world that delves deeper than the usual art-and-fashion mashups. Since 1995, Prada and her husband (and Prada CEO) Patrizio Bertelli have operated Fondazione Prada, an institution dedicated to art and culture. Based in Milan, the center serves as a space where the designer and her company can engage a dialogue between the two worlds.

Now, Prada is taking that dialogue global. This week, the Italian luxury brand launched Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai, China. Located in the city’s ritzy Jing’an District, Prada Rong Zhai is a Western-style mansion that Ms. Prada and her husband have painstakingly restored and transformed into a cultural center that will host an ever-changing lineup of art exhibitions, shows, and events.

Prada 2018 Resort Parade at Prada Rong Zhai on October 12, 2017, in Shanghai, China. Photo by Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images for Prada.

Fresh from Shanghai Fashion Week, where Prada showed its Resort 2018 collection, the fashion house christened the new cultural space and arts center with a grand, opening-night soiree on October 14. The event featured an exhibition from curator and creative director Michael Rock that highlighted the opulent estate’s spaciousness. “We made the decision to leave the house spare,” Rock explained to W magazine. “To tell the story about what they did because the exhibit is about the house itself. The process was really important because it’s about craftsmanship, detailing, and doing things that aren’t superficial.”

Interior view of the newly restored Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai. Courtesy of Prada.

Interior view of the newly restored Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai. Courtesy of Prada.

The project touches on themes that come up again and again in Miuccia Prada’s work—memory, cultural escapism, the dialogue between past and present, and the beauty of the unexpected. With Prada Rong Zhai, the designer continues to look for new ways to engage with the world, knowing—perhaps better than most—just how deeply fashion and culture are intertwined.

Prada Rong Zhai will be open to the public from October 17 to November 12, 2017.

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