What’s Good G?

Golden Moments

Germane Barnes

In his latest column, Germane Barnes recounts a day—and a fashion show—he’ll never forget

Hello again! I have officially been back in the States for two months and things are slowly getting back to relative normalcy. The jetlag is behind me, pasta is no longer the primary dietary option, and I think I am already beginning to forget the introductory Italian I learned while abroad! Needless to say, send me back!

When we last were together, I recapped my time at the American Academy in Rome and I promised to share my time at the Prada SS23 Menswear Collection fashion show in Milan, presented by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. So let’s get to it!

Theaster Gates (left) and members of the inaugural cohort from Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, all in Prada; Photo courtesy of Germane Barnes

As a part of the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab—a new incubator program that aims to amplify the work of artists and designers of color, launched by artist and social innovator Theaster Gates and Prada Group, in partnership with Rebuild Foundation—the initiative’s inaugural fellows, including yours truly, were invited to Milan to witness the men’s fashion show. This was an amazing honor and extremely gracious of all parties involved. It began with the entire cohort being fitted, head to toe, in Prada clothing. Fellows traveled from Africa, the United States, and Italy to convene in Milan where we had a group dinner at a traditional Italian restaurant. The following day we met at the Fondazione Prada—an incredible, multi-building venue in the south of the city designed by Rem Koolhaas-led architecture firm OMA—where we were given a private tour.

 Fondazione Prada; Top photo by Gaetano Cessati via Unsplash; Bottom photos courtesy of Germane Barnes

After the tour, we ascended to the top floor where we took photographs together. It was an amazing morning, and I felt like we were on top of the city. After the photoshoot we descended into another gallery for the fashion show. The space’s decor, designed by AMO (the research studio of OMA), was intended to represent an intimate house, featuring walls, windows, floors and curtains constructed from rolls of raw-edged paper, an everyday material fashioned into something exceptional. It was a quite innovative set design that appeared to also be recyclable, demonstrating an attention to the global issue of sustainability. Once we entered the seating area, I noticed our stools were made of double-ply cardboard. Handwritten note cards with each attendee’s name were delicately placed atop the seats. To my surprise, our entire cohort was placed front row. Fourteen young designers of color were given a prominent location, opposite some of the creative world’s biggest names.

 Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab fellows at Prada’s SS23 Menswear Collection show; at bottom, from left: Brandon Breaux, Norman Teague, and Damarr Brown. Photos courtesy of Germane Barnes

We witnessed the newest designs for the upcoming year. Clothes ranged from suits to denim—all very elegant—and it was fascinating to observe the work of a powerhouse team from a creative discipline other than my own.

After the conclusion of the fashion show, we returned to the rooftop suite for an amazing dinner sponsored by Prada, featuring many of those aforementioned international stars. It was an incredible feeling, as our cohort—every one of us driving towards the top of our games—collided with the world of this legendary fashion-house-slash-cultural institution. Needless to say this was a night to remember and something I had never experienced before. The past two years have been surreal, and yet this was perhaps one of the most unbelievable moments.

Until next time,