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Frank Ocean is the new face of Prada

“Programming Rhythms And Dancing Again”

Frank Ocean is the new face of Prada “Programming Rhythms And Dancing Again”

A black Prada anorak was enough for Frank Ocean to steal the show at the 2019 Met Gala - whose theme, the "camp," seemed in stark contrast to the minimal and normcore choice of his outfit. Prada's jacket, which immediately became a cult object for the fans of the artist, had been paired with a black shirt and tie, following a trend - that of suit&tie - that Ocean himself has carried out for much of 2019, including business variants had launched the Cactus Plant Flea Market VaporMax in May. Frank Ocean's ability to create around himself a well defined aesthetic, and do so in what - by the standards of the 2010s - are really sporadic public appearances, tell of Ocean's ability to influence not only the world of music, but also the world of fashion

So it's no surprise that Prada chose Frank Ocean as the face of the new SS20 Menswear campaign - along with actor Justin Butler and director Nicolas Winding Refn. The statement issued by Prada reads of the three protagonists that:

«Each embodies a single identity of the Prada man, one aspect, one outlook, multiplied by each image, each definition».

Frank Ocean, for example, has been able, since his official debut in "Channel Orange", to completely rewrite the canons of black masculinity, standing as a symbol of a new way of initiating it, far from the stereotypes to which the protagonists of the declinations more modern black music had been associated. Along with him, ASAP Rocky, Young Thug and, later, Tyler The Creator had been able, especially through fashion, to challenge some of the historical taboos imposed on the black aesthetic, focusing strongly on a more androgynous, feminine and well-groomed imagery. What Frank Ocean did though, it was a little bit and still fundamentally different. As Pryia Elan wrote in The Guardian in 2016:

«Musically and stylistically, Ocean subverts expectations and norms. He’s not an R&B singer and he doesn’t dress like Kanye West. As a person of colour, his anti-peacock image resets the subtext about how black celebrities and singers are expected to dress.».

The maturation of Frank Ocean's aesthetic, which has gone from the skater-style of Los Angeles, all Vans and Supreme, to the more New York business casual had already been evident in the past years, from collaborations with Calvin Klein and Band of Outsiders, as well as from outfits Dior or Raf Simons and, of course, the anorak in color blocking worn in the shoot with W Magazine

The new Prada campaign, shot by photographer David Sims, tries to return this evolution of Frank Ocean's aesthetic, through a pair of portraits where the singer is represented by a full-body side - wearing a coat, an oversized shirt and what appears to be a Texan tie - and a black-and-white portrait, in which stands a reworking of Prada's acronym: "Programming Rhythms And Dancing Again". According to the official communiqué, the reinterpretation of the brand name is the essence of the new campaign: "influenced by abstract ideas, thoughts, notions: they provoke, sometimes adding context, sometimes positing a contradiction, always sparking thought". All the protagonists of the campaign, in fact, were chosen for their ability to tell a story: that of Frank Ocean seems to meet perfectly the intentions of Prada, who has chosen to focus - like so many other fashion houses - on urban artists, the real protagonists of the past and the future decade, but in a different way: in the manner of Frank Ocean.