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Prada presents Il Palazzo

The palace of role play is further elevated with a collection of illustrations by Richard Haines

Since Prada's AW12 menswear show back in January, Richard Haines has produced over 100 drawings, comprised of scenes from the runway, backstage as well as additional sketches realised at the illustrator's studio in New York, lurking in the pages of antique books.

That his men should literally dominate over the written word is apt: the season is described by Miuccia Prada as a 'palace of role play', a workout of imperial posture, pomp and power that featured players of the silver screen; Gary Oldman, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody and Jamie Bell. New face Arthur Gosse also flexed power of his own – opening Prada is one of the most prestigious things to happen to a model full-stop.

Published as a special art book of hardback fiction proportions (naturally), the brand is set to launch this experience online, with digital environments by James Lima. This season's accessory of choice? A Prada fountain pen, which handily eradicates the need for a sword. We caught up with artist Haines, who in the past worked as a fashion designer, to discuss the project.

Dazed Digital: How was it working with a fashion house as progressive as Prada?
Richard Haines:
It was pretty heavenly. As an artist, to work with a client who sets no limitations, it’s extraordinary. And the process kept evolving – I’d hear, in the most charming accent, 'Richard, please trust us in our process'. I did, and they trusted me as well, so it was a mutual journey. The night before the show I stopped by the shop in Milan and I saw the level of perfection, the thought in the details.

As I continued to draw, I got more into researching Italian history – the art and architecture, and drawing over 18th century portraits I think was so in sync with what Prada was doing with the collection. I felt more and more that I was having a dialogue, which for me was very special and lovely.

DD: How has working as a designer effected your illustrations?
Richard Haines:
It's given me the ability to understand the workings of a garment. I worked for years with tailors and pattern makers, so I have a pretty innate sense of where the pockets go, where a seam falls. I think that informs my drawings.

DD: What about the relationship between fashion illustration and fashion photography?
Richard Haines:
They're two mediums that tell a story in different ways, and can coexist and support each other. I certainly don't think that one cancels the other out. In a world bombarded with images, I believe illustration gives a necessary counter balance from photography. The urge to draw is pretty primal – look at the cave drawings, ‘I was here, I saw something, I have a story to tell’. That doesn't change, only the mediums do.

It's funny because what I do is pretty old school, it's a pad of paper, a charcoal pencil and some paint. But I think because of what I chose to draw, and the social media I use, like the blog, Twitter, Instagram, they breathe new life into it. It's great to see recognition given to extraordinary talents like Antonio [Lopez], with a new book dedicated to his work.

DD: Are you excited by the collection? What would you love to wear from it?
Richard Haines:
Oh yeah, of course! I feel really close with this collection. I love the shape of the jackets and coats, and the shoes with the 'faux' rubbers. I remember men wearing those as a kid and thinking they were so bizarre and sexual so when I saw the Prada version I totally got it.

Illustrations Richard Haines
Digital environments James Lima