Actually, I've just scrolled back and looked: the last collections I posted about and commented on were all from 2014. Thom Browne, Dolce & Gabbana, and Meadham-Kirchoff, respectively. There's also this post about Jeremy Scott dresses and the one I've still never finished about Manish Arora from the other site I used to post things on five years ago before copypasting them all and deleting my account there. Sigh.
Now the only way I keep up with this stuff is through the pages and magazines I follow on social media, and that's how I found out that James Jean has been working with Prada since 2007 - the same year I finished high school, which was one decade ago, hello darkness my old friend - and his illustrations and their prints are now more than ever one in the same and it's so, so good.
Quick non-sequitur: he's also doing artwork for Guillermo del Toro's new film The Shape of Water, which I think looks like the Abe Sapien of Hellboy origin story mashed up with Amélie and The Lady in the Water, all of which I really enjoyed.
When I scrolled past this poster on Instagram I was like, hnnngggg
Anyway, I've been a fan of James Jean since, well, since high school, actually. Since about the time I just mentioned, 2006 or 2007. My mom bought me a book of his postcards that I miss and for some reason remember very clearly, maybe because I'm constantly thinking about all the stuff waiting for me back home, and what to get rid of and what to keep. He's Taiwanese American and under 40, and a lot of what he does is whimsical in kind of a creepy and sexual way, often involving sea creatures:
But anyway, that's more than enough of a rambling introduction: let's get to what he's actually done for Prada. These murals are the first item on the agenda, for the Prada Epicenter stores in New York and L.A. I'm assuming they're the same at both locations, as I've also seen them described as "wallpaper".
I tracked down the original article about the murals/wallpaper/installation, but it's really just a blurb with no images. The third image directly above this caption plus quite a lot of what follows are all taken directly from this Prada collaboration section of Jean's own website.
Immediately following that was the Spring/Summer '08 collection, which featured his illustrations printed on the garments as well as a backdrop he did for the runway show in Milan:
I really like the satellites in there. Why would forest nymphs need them?
What does it mean?
In addition to the prints and runway show backdrop, he wrote, storyboarded, and did visual development for this weird and in some ways low budget-looking but still lovely CG animation in the same vein as and promoting the collection.
It's called "Trembled Blossoms", taken from Keats' Ode to Psyche:
Here are some high-quality stills from it,
also taken directly from that same page of his website.
This is what the same imagery looked like on Prada's Aoyama Epicentre, in one of the wealthiest areas of downtown Tokyo. I'd have liked to see this in person.
Let's fast-forward that decade we've been talking about to the present, and the Prada Resort 2018 collection. (When Dazed and Confused recently interviewed Jean and wrote about said collection, they led up to it in a similar way, by starting with the Trembled Blossoms '08 works and finally including the full video of the runway show from this year.)
Light, breezy, whites, offwhites, pastels; nothing groundbreaking really.
The real winner of the collection is very obviously the bunny clutches.
Well, and floral clutches. This one doesn't actually have bunnies. And I like it the most.
The sporty socks and shoes are also interesting.
But when you combine all of it into a full look, honestly, it's really pretty fucky and weird:
Like, okay, I am light and breezy and bunnies and ready for warm weather
but also wearing orthopedic shoes?
Iamlightandbreezyandbunniesandreadyforwarmweather and the breeze mussed my hair but also I am from the future and do not understand how human clothes of the past work? What is clothes?
They admittedly lost me here.
But that's all that I've got on James Jean's Prada collaborations, so let's talk now about a common mistake fashion bloggers have been making since this collection was introduced in the spring: assuming that all of the floral illustrations Prada has been using were, in fact, done by James Jean.
These were obviously not. A quick and simple Google will reveal that they were done by Daryl Feril, a lesser-known illustrator from the Philippines. These artists pair almost seamlessly together, and initially I thought that whoever figured that out definitely deserved a hat tip, until I realised it was probably James Jean himself. I'll explain about that in a minute.
But first, for example, check out these Daryl Feril designs for an unrelated perfume ad campaign:
Oh geeze, there are even bunnies, right? How can you tell the difference? How, Sway?!
The images below are a combination of two of his projects, called "Florescentia" and "Brands in Full Bloom" I and II, the latter of course including what he did for Prada. The differences should be very clear now. Their styles are, in fact, very distinct; Feril's have more of a rough, blotchy, watercolour thing going on.
Pretty easy to tell the difference now, right? It's actually even easier if you look up more of Feril's works that are done in colour. The way I described this is doubly true of anything he does that's not monochrome.
But so, on a final note, the reason I'm pretty sure James Jean just knows this guy is that he's spent quite a bit of time exhibiting and doing book signings in Manila. Observe:
Must be pretty cool, right? To have an internationally famous Asian artist friend be like, "hey you should do illustrations for Prada with me for their S/S 18 Resort collection". Of course I have no way of knowing if that's true, but we can all dream. I'll be on the lookout for anything else these two do, be it with Prada or on their own.