Last week the ever-enigmatic musician, Frank Ocean, was revealed as one of the faces of Prada’s Spring/Summer menswear campaign and the internet collectively swooned. The new faces for the menswear branch of the Italian fashion house were announced, like any newsworthy info in 2020, as Prada shared video clips of their new campaign on social media. The brand described the campaign as ‘a playful metaphor for a confident embracing of the indefinability of #PRADA itself’. However, commenters beneath their Instagram post chose to ignore the campaign hashtag in lieu of an homage to the 32-year-old heartthrob and posted instead #pradaocean.
Though Mr. Ocean was the headline stealing reveal, he is not the only star of the campaign, which also sees actor Austin Butler and director Nicolas Winding Refn as shot by infamous photographer David Sims. Sims is a frequent co-collaborator of Prada’s, having previously worked on their campaigns featuring the likes of Tobey Maguire and Christopher Waltz.
For his latest work with the brand, Sims had captured his subjects in both monochrome and full colour, similarly to Willy Vanderperre’s shots for Prada’s menswear A/W18 campaign. A close-up black and white shot of Ocean in a black turtleneck contrasts with its polychromatic counterpart which sees the musician nonchalantly leaning against a bedroom wall in an already much-coveted look.
An oversized shirt sits atop a pair of cropped camel trousers, finished with a dark, tailored overcoat. Perhaps most significantly though, Ocean also wears a slim bolo tie, reminiscent of the one which graced his neck at last year’s Met Gala. This nod to his Met Gala look perhaps signifies that his appearance there in head-to-toe Prada was foreshadowing this campaign all along.
So, while Ocean’s new role as the face of Prada isn’t entirely surprising, the decision to cast a figure who has long been outspoken around issues of diversity does appear as a smart move from a brand who as recently as 2018 found themselves amidst a storm of racism allegations. Not only has the new face of Prada championed LGBTQ+ rights with his queer club nights, he also famously withheld his albums from the Grammy’s in protest at the awards’ lack of diversity. The release of the campaign also came almost a year to the day since Prada became one of a handful of Milan fashion houses to adopt a diversity manifesto.
Equally for the famously-elusive Frank, this appears as a sensible partnership in a year which will see him headlining Coachella and rumours would have him dropping an album. The Prada logo has been reimagined for this latest menswear campaign, with each star creating an acrostic poem from the brand’s famous letters. “Programming Rhythms And Dancing Again” reads Ocean’s poem. Could this mean this will be the year that we’ll be dancing to new tracks from him?
words Emma Cook