When inscrutable and fashion-forward Italian clothes designer Prada decided to open a massive store in SoHo, in New York City, it hired famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to design it. After $40 million was spent on the project, the Prada SoHo store opened in a cast iron-era loft building on lower Broadway in late 2001.

The space inhabits the first floor and basement and was designed as not just a retail showcase for Prada’s expensive and coveted shoes, bags and clothes, but also as a venue for themed cultural events. The space has a wave-like wooden slope that has the curvilinear style of a skateboarders half-pipe. Facing it is a wide bank of stairs that double as tiered theater seating. A ridiculous but cool large glass-encased circular elevator, similar to one installed in the Louvre Museum in Paris, ferries customers unable to use the stairs to and from the basement level.

The area near the front entrance is filled by a platoon of female mannequins, each arranged facing the same direction, as if marching confidently and blindly into some fashionista jihad. The mannequins get moved around a bit and have their clothes changed every now and then, but collectively the display remains essentially unchanged from season to season.

Ivan “Van” Corsa Photo