Chanel was forced to cancel the world tour of its traveling handbag pavilion, the Mobile Art Exhibit, owing to the economy. But the fashion industry has not given up on multi-million-dollar marketing efforts disguised as art. This week in Seoul, Prada unveiled its Transformer building designed by Rem Koolhaas. The structure cost $10 million and will serve as a space for fashion and art installations, just like Chanel's handbag pod. However, while Chanel's handbag pod just sat lifelessly on the ground, the Prada Transformer changes shape. It will morph twice in the coming months to adapt to the art installations within. Currently it is in a shape appropriate for the Waist Down exhibit within — a display of 100 skirts.
So why was it built in Seoul? Seoul is only Prada's fourth-largest market in Asia. Prada chief executive Patrizio Bertelli explains, “The culture is used to luxury and new things, much more than countries where we are already established." Well, he'll have to excuse us for all our old things. We're only trying to shop our closets like good recessionistas. The Transformer "will probably happen in other cities in Asia," Bertelli says. It also might travel to Milan. It's just as well. Rich people here would be too ashamed to go look at it, anyway.