Prada Hires Sporty New Ambassador; Balenciaga Goes (Custom) Academic

·14-min read

PRADA’S SPORTY SIDE: Prada has named Chinese basketball player Shuyu Yang as its latest brand ambassador.

The athlete appears in a series of photos and a short film wearing pieces from the brand’s latest men’s collection and playing with a red basketball, or listening to music from a vintage turntable.

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With more than 3 million followers on Weibo, China’s own Twitter, Yang reached national fame by helping China score a bronze medal in the women’s 3×3 basketball tournament in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Shuyu Yang, Prada's latest brand ambassador
Shuyu Yang, Prada’s latest brand ambassador.

Her gender-neutral appearance attracts a following similar to the likes of singer Chris Lee, who is the face of both Gucci and Versace, as well as Dior’s China ambassador Liu Yuxin. Both Lee and Liu are known for their androgynous way of dressing.

Yang is the second sports superstar that Prada appointed as a face for China. The brand named Chinese table tennis player and Olympic champion Ma Long as a brand ambassador ahead of its men’s fall 2022 show last year.

The brand also dressed four Chinese Olympic athletes last year for its Douyin campaign, featuring Yang, Tokyo Olympics shot put gold medalist Gong Lijiao, marathon runner Li Zhixuan, and China women’s national water polo team member Xiong Dunhan.

Shuyu Yang, Prada's latest brand ambassador
Shuyu Yang, Prada’s latest brand ambassador.

This shift in Prada’s celebrity-endorsement strategy in China comes after it received backlash in 2021 as former brand ambassador Zheng Shuang was caught in a highly publicized child dispute.

The brand’s other ambassadors from China include singer Cai Xukun, whose appearance at Prada’s fall 2023 show created $1.37 million and $2.2 million in earned media value on Instagram and on Weibo, respectively, actor Li Xian, and actress Chun Xia. — TIANWEI ZHANG

SCHOLARLY CHIC: Couture clients can come from many walks of life, including academia. French literary critic, writer and professor Antoine Compagnon commissioned Balenciaga for the “habit vert” he will wear for his induction to the Académie Française Thursday.

Antoine Compagnon stands in an opulent room with gold molding wearing ceremonial garb by Balenciaga.
Antoine Compagnon in ceremonial garb by Balenciaga.

The ceremonial garb includes a sword and a black or navy suit embroidered with green and gold olive branches. According to Balenciaga, which resumed making couture in 2021 after a 53-year absence, this is the first time since the house was founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga in 1917 that it was called upon to produce a bespoke suit for the academy, which was founded in 1635 to safeguard the French language.

Created by creative director Demna, the black cloak, tailcoat and pants, white shirt, white vest and bowtie required 300 hours of work in Balenciaga’s couture ateliers in Paris. Meanwhile, the embroideries festooning the outer edges of the tailoring took 900 hours at Maison Lesage.

France’s Immortals, as inductees to the Académie Française are known, frequently call on couture brands like Dior and Givenchy to create their regalia.

Meanwhile, Boucheron, which like Balenciaga is controlled by French group Kering, realized the sword that is meant to represent Compagnon’s life and work — hence its feather-shaped handle and the hedgehog depicted in the cabochon. (The latter creature is associated with Greek poet Archilochus, who proclaimed “a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog knows one big thing.”)

François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Kering, said he was “proud and honored by the trust placed in our houses.…These unique, custom-made pieces fully reflect Antoine Compagnon’s personality, a manifestation of creativity combined with the greatest skills and traditions that allow individuals to express what is unique to them.”

Brussels-born Compagnon is professor emeritus at the Collège de France and a specialist in French literature. He also taught at École Polytechnique, the French Institute of the United Kingdom in London, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Maine and the Sorbonne in France.

He has written numerous books on literary criticism, history and is considered an expert on Michel de Montaigne, Charles Baudelaire, Marcel Proust and Colette. — MILES SOCHA

LOST AND FOUND: Rare images of Kate Moss and Cameron Diaz from the early ’90s captured by photographer Michel Haddi will go on display at the image-focused art fair Photo London, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday.

Kate Moss by Michel Haddi
Kate Moss by Michel Haddi.

Represented by the Milan-based 29 Arts In Progress gallery, Haddi shot Moss for British GQ in 1991, and Diaz for Vogue Homme Magazine in 1993. Polaroids were taken by Haddi during these shoots, and he stumbled across them while clearing out his storage.

In the image, Moss gazes into the camera before appearing to writhe on a dark velvet sofa, while Diaz wears a Our P—ys Our Choice T-shirt and holds an empty water bottle.

Haddi, who has shot for a wide range of publications over the decades, said he met Moss through stylist Kim Bowen, a mutual friend, and he later shot Moss for a Bloomingdale’s campaign.

“When I think of Kate, I think of the little mermaid of Copenhagen. That was my idea behind this shot,” Haddi explained.

With regard to his experinece of working with Diaz, Haddi recalled, “She had that T-shirt on and I thought it was so amusing. You have to understand it is way, way back before the #MeToo movement, when women didn’t speak that much. So to have a great and attractive lady showing that T-shirt off, was like OMG.”

Also on display at the booth are images of Uma Thurman, Linda Evangelista, Veruschka Von Lehndorff, and Marisa Berenson captured by Haddi, alongside works of Rankin/Gian Paolo Barbieri and Toni Meneguzzo.

There will also be a book signing for “Kate Moss — The Legend Book of Lost Polaroids of Kate” by Michel Haddi on Saturday at the fair inside Somerset House. — T.Z.

TEAMING FOR TENNIS: Nordstrom has teamed with Paris-based contemporary brand Casablanca for its next pop-up.

The two companies have created an exclusive capsule of modern tennis-inspired athleisurewear for the Casablanca@Nordstrom concept. The line includes ready-to-wear, accessories, jewelry and eyewear for men and women including après-sport tracksuits, engineered knitwear and on-court looks.

In addition, a special collaboration with Mad Paris will also be offered, including a Contax G2 camera and the first Casablanca tennis racquet housed in a specially designed case featuring the brand’s signature perforated leather and colorblock branding.

Prices will range from $40 for logo ribbed socks to $8,240 for the camera. Printed men’s swim trunks are $325, a pique polo is $420, a women’s scallop-edge pleated skirt is $470 and a pearl logo necklace is $225.

Casablanca@Nordstrom
Casablanca@Nordstrom’s tennis-inspired capsule.

“The Casablanca Tennis Club has always been an integral part of the brand’s DNA from the very beginning,” said Charaf Tajer, creative director of Casablanca.

“Charaf Tajer’s vision for Casablanca has always been a feast for the eyes,” added Jian Deleon, Nordstrom’s men’s fashion director. “He has a natural penchant for vibrant prints and rich color stories that really flesh out the world he’s been building over the past few seasons. The opportunity to bring that to our customers is exciting, especially when filtered through the lens of tennis. I’m a fan of how he subverts and reinterprets resort and leisurewear with his signature sense of irreverence.”

The capsule will be available online and in nine Nordstrom stores across the country beginning Thursday through the beginning of July. — JEAN E. PALMIERI

STRONG MATCH: In the midst of the Champions League heated semifinals that kicked off on Tuesday, Dsquared2 founders Dean and Dan Caten had plenty of friends to support.

To celebrate the brand’s ongoing partnership with Manchester City Football Club, which has to duel with Real Madrid to get the golden ticket to the soccer competition’s final, Dsquared2 has developed a capsule collection of ready-to-wear and accessories bearing the team’s crest along with its logo.

This is the first time the two parties release a capsule collection since launching their collaboration in 2016, when the Catens developed the first pre-match uniforms for the soccer team.

Dropping at Dsquared2 flagships, its e-commerce and a selection of wholesalers worldwide on Thursday, the range comprises Dsquared2 staples like denim and outerwear, along with accessories including baseball caps and sneakers.

Mostly rendered in black, items feature contrasting bold lettering reading “Dsquared2 for Manchester City Limited Edit,” as seen on a tailored jacket with a split vent, a crewneck knit or on the tongue of lace-up boots.

Aymeric Laporte and Erling Haaland in the Dsquared2 x Manchester City capsule collection campaign.
Aymeric Laporte and Erling Haaland in the Dsquared2 x Manchester City capsule collection campaign.

The Manchester City circular crest detailed with a ship and diagonal stripes stand out in other pieces, encompassing bomber jackets, jumper knits or back pockets of straight fit denim pants, in addition to beanies and backpacks.

With an entry price of roughly 200 euros, the capsule collection comes with a special hangtag and internal label, as well as a dedicated campaign featuring key stars of the team, including Erling Haaland, Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias.

Aymeric Laporte, Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and Ruben Dias appear in the Dsquared2 x Manchester City capsule collection campaign.
Aymeric Laporte, Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and Ruben Dias appear in the Dsquared2 x Manchester City capsule collection campaign.

The partnership with Manchester City is not Dsquared2’s first in soccer. In 2006, the Canadian duo designed the official uniforms for Italy’s Juventus Football Club, while in 2009 they created the off-field attire for the FC Barcelona’s team. Incidentally, Manchester City’s current coach Pep Guardiola was the Barcelona coach at the time.

But the Catens’ might have watched closely the other Champions League semifinal, seeing Milanese clubs A.C. Milan and FC Internazionale Milano on opposing fronts on Wednesday, since the brand released the “Black on Black” capsule collection codesigned with A.C. Milan soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović last year. — SANDRA SALIBIAN

SHARK BEACH: The seaside resort craze begins.

Menswear specialist Paul&Shark, whose DNA is rooted in its love of the sea and sustainability, is taking over Tigu Beach for the upcoming summer season, offering a multifaceted experience of leisure and cultural opportunities.

Located on the shores of eastern Liguria, in Riva Trigoso, a stone’s throw from Sestri Levante facing the biodiversity-rich Tigullio Gulf, the beach club has been revamped to echo the fashion brand’s aesthetic.

Paul&Shark’s signature orange color decks the wainscoting details juxtaposed with wallpapers bearing vintage-nodding prints of natural landscapes. Inspired by Parisian interiors from the ‘40s, furniture has forest green details matching the green tea-colored flooring, chairs and tables reference bistro decor while sage green cabanas framing the beach look like a cruise boat’s corridor.

The Tigu Beach in Riva Trigoso, Italy customized by Paul & Shark.
The Tigu Beach in Riva Trigoso, Italy, customized by Paul&Shark.

The solarium area, with 54 regular and 10 large-size beds, sunbeds and umbrellas bearing orange, green, white and beige stripes, is flanked by two restaurants offering Italian and Japanese menus.

In keeping with its green commitment, Paul&Shark is organizing outdoor experiences throughout the summer, led by the OutBe start-up focused on spreading knowledge on and fostering the safeguard of natural and marine environments. Kayak clean-up expeditions at sea, coasteering, or coastal trekking, sessions and electric boat tours will animate the season, offering tourists a chance to discover the area.

The beach takeover was developed by the brand’s creative team in tandem with Edoardo Santanna, the beach club owner and Mattia Ferrari, an art director and cofounder of women’s fashion label Julfer.

The Tigu Beach in Riva Trigoso, Italy customized by Paul & Shark.
The restaurant at the Tigu Beach in Riva Trigoso, Italy, customized by Paul & Shark.

The initiative falls within Paul&Shark’s journey toward rebranding, as reported. The company wants to evolve its DNA, softening its sailing message and embracing a more urban and casual aesthetic catering to a wider customer base. Earlier this year, Paul&Shark unveiled its spring 2023 campaign starring Mark Vanderloo and his son Mark Vanderloo Jr. shot by Giampaolo Sgura. — MARTINO CARRERA

VISIONARY AWARD: The High School of Fashion Industries will hold its student fashion show and fundraiser on May 24 at Gansevoort Plaza in the Meatpacking District. The event will honor Angelo Baque, founder and creative director of Awake NY, with the Visionary Award, and global logistics provider UPS with its Fashion Equity Award.

The 35th annual event is in partnership with the Meatpacking District Management Association. It marks the first time the event will take place in a community space. The fashion show will take place at 6:30 p.m. and the awards ceremony will follow at 7 p.m. The show and awards will be held outdoors, with a rain date of May 25.

“I’m grateful for this recognition and the fantastic work we did alongside UPS for 2022 NYFW in support of HSFI. Still, the true honorees are the kids, teachers, administrators and supporters of HSFI, who are shaping the future of fashion,” said Baque.

Previous HSFI honorees have been Ken Downing, Ruth Finley, Jeffrey Kalinsky, Tracey Reese, Daniela Vitale and Gary Wassner, among others.

Daryl Blank, the principal of HSFI, said, “The past three years have been some of the most challenging at HSFI for students and faculty alike. Showing in the Meatpacking District, one of New York’s top style destinations, is inspiring for the entire school. Moreover, we are beyond thrilled to be honoring Angelo Baque, founder and creative director of Awake NY, and UPS for their overwhelming support of HSFI and generous BIPOC scholarships.”

Jeffrey LeFrancois, the Meatpacking District’s executive director, added, “We are thrilled that our plazas will become runways for this year’s High School of Fashion Industries Student Fashion Show. The future of fashion has always come from New York City, and the Meatpacking District is a destination for style and innovation, making it the perfect backdrop for students to showcase their creativity. We can’t wait to see their final creations.”

Three Latinx students will receive UPS scholarships for $25,000 each, which will go toward their college education from funds raised by donations from UPS and Baque.

The event highlight will be a runway show presented by the graduating senior class, including students’ designs, models, styling and choreography. Throughout the year, the class is mentored by a list of industry designers and leaders who attend events such as the HSFI Career Day and the Fashion Show Preview, a critiquing process leading up to the final designs and show. — LISA LOCKWOOD

FAMILIAL TIES: Photographer Mous Lamrabat’s new exhibition, “There’s No One Like Us,” explores how those affected by the global diaspora stay connected to their loved ones via the international messaging service WhatsApp.

Set to run from Thursday to Saturday at the Tab Centre in Shoreditch, London. Lamrabat created the images in collaboration with WhatsApp, featuring bold and fantasy-like colors with a poignant message.

“Home is not a country, it’s your family,” the Moroccan Belgian photographer told WWD.

'There's No One Like Us,' by Mous Lamrabat.
“There’s No One Like Us,” by Mous Lamrabat.

The images are accompanied by audio from each subject, describing their experience of living in a foreign community and culture, separated from their families.

Amadou, an elderly man living in Brazil who was dealing with health complications, touched Lamrabat the most.

“He has a lot of siblings, and everybody lives in a different part of the world,” Lamrabat explained.

“When we were shooting he had just come from the hospital. It felt really sad for me when he talked about his family, because when you go through a tough time, you just want to have that comfort of your mom, and there was no one there,” he added.

Image from “There’s No One Like Us.”
Image from “There’s No One Like Us.”

Global identities were highlighted through styling, subjects bringing and wearing clothing and accessories from the country they’re from, mixed with items from the country they currently live in, emphasizing “how beautiful it is when you combine different worlds or different things.”

That sentiment explains why the series will be shown at the Tab Centre, a community center in Shoreditch that helps children, families, young people, vulnerable adults and asylum seekers.

“The work of the Tab Centre aligns with everything we value both as a brand and the tenets of this project,” said Vivian Odior, global head of marketing at WhatsApp.

Image from "There's No One Like Us."
Image from “There’s No One Like Us.”

“I want to start experimenting outside of photography,” said Lamrabat, hinting at the possibility of venturing into installation art.

He’s currently developing a capsule collection, featuring two prints for women and men.

“It’s all about the fabric and shape. I want to do pieces that look very artistic, very wearable,” Lamrabat said. — VIOLET GOLDSTONE

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