Scarlett Johansson

What’s so special about Prada’s new Galleria bag campaign starring Scarlett Johansson?

The American actress features in images conceptualised by artist Alex Da Corte

American actress Scarlett Johansson stars in the new Prada Galleria campaign. Photo: Prada
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Prada has a history of working with famous faces. You only have to look back to January last year to see Kyle MacLachlan and Jeff Goldblum walking its runway during Milan Fashion Week.

Now, the Italian fashion house has enlisted the help of another Hollywood star, Scarlett Johansson. As the face of the brand’s reimagined Galleria bag, the actress features in a series of images for the campaign, which has been conceptualised and directed by Venezuelan-American artist, Alex Da Corte.

Since launching in 2007, the Galleria – named after the original Prada flagship store opened by Mario Prada in 1913, and located in the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, in Milan – has garnered something of a cult following.

The campaign, starring Scarlett Johansson, features a bold contrasting colour scheme and compositions verging on optical illusions. Photo: Prada

Leaning into a century of technical know-how, the bag is constructed from 83 separate pieces, painstakingly assembled and steeped in Prada history. The curved top handle echoes the company’s designs from the 1940s and it is offered in the house-signature Saffiano leather, which was patented by Mario Prada.

To craft Saffiano, the leather undergoes a complex hot-press process to create the signature crosshatched surface, while all the leather edges are still smoothed and painted by hand.

Created with a new audience in mind, today the Galleria is remade with vivid pops of colour, in an array of leathers. In the skilful hands of Miuccia Prada – famous for her eclectic colour clashing – peach nestles up to minty blue, dusty pink sits next to caramel, and pink is contrasted with orange.

With an avant-garde twist, the colours are worked differently across the range of bags. On one, it is horizontal layers, another features vertical stripes, while a third catches the eye thanks to a looping parabola of lime, which swings across a stark white background. To contrast, an angular fourth colourway features sharp squares and triangles that create the patterning.

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With such an off-kilter aesthetic, it is no surprise that the house called on the Venezuelan-American artist to create the campaign images. Having already worked with the Italian brand in the past – Da Corte created a site-specific work called Rubber Pencil Devil that showed at the Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai, between November 2020 and January 2021 – he was brought on board to capture the campaign with Johansson.

On sets made in an equally punchy palette as the bags – but here in contrasting colours – Da Corte captured the actress leaning on a gleaming silver pillow on a cinnabar red table (perhaps as a play on her name, as cinnabar can also be scarlet red) with a background of rich green and blue.

The images were created by Venezuelan-American artist, Alex Da Corte. Photo: Prada

Another image shows Johansson as if she is looking in a mirror. Facing the camera, she wears an olive coat and carries a Galleria bag in bright turquoise; her reflection, meanwhile wears a black coat and carries an orange bag.

The vibrant but contrasting use of colour continues with an image of Johansson standing at a windowed door wearing a taupe shirt and orange coat, holding a tan bag against a pink wall.

The final image is an echo of French painter Marcel Duchamp’s masterpiece, Nude Descending a Staircase, No 1. Translucent images of Johansson, wearing muted grey and green, appear five times as she walks down a flight of tangelo stairs. Duchamp’s work was painted two years before the first Prada store opened in 1913. It is a key piece of art history that has been weaved into the visual narrative.

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