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As the ‘90s became the naughties, technological mania accelerated at unprecedented rates and dramatically altered the zeitgeist, Y2K cyber futurism was changing the landscape of style and Prada? well it was at the forefront of the cutting edge, carving out an era of high fashion in its image. From Miuccia’s seemingly supernatural ability to shape not only industry practices, but taste, ahead of anyone and everyone else, to the campaigns that came with it, the Italian fashion house was categorically transformative.

Norbert Schoerner was the eye behind many of those iconic advertorials. A true innovator, the London-based, German photographer’s experimental, euphorically-flavoured visuals cemented the avant-garde spirit of the Prada brand at the turn of the millennium. Through photo and film, he sought to establish a whole new set of rules that were completely unique to his rigorous yet playful way of thinking, being and seeing. Probing at the possibilities of what an image can be by manufacturing a collision of reality and fantasy that was, at the same time, deeply human, Schoerner set a new standard for visual storytelling in the fashion industry. In Prada, he met his match, pioneering the brand in using computer retouching for the very first time and symbiotically orchestrating the aesthetics that would come to define an era that was just so damn cool. “Working with Prada takes a long time. It was very fragmented. Work in progress. We weren’t working from a script. We were re-writing the script all the time. Formulating the concept every day,” Schoerner says. “The work proceeds with failures, and reacts to changes. It’s very much an empirical process. And that’s the luxury of these campaigns. Other brands didn’t give you the time to do that…” One of “the most rigorous and aesthetically principled of all practitioners”, unsurprisingly, his work remains referenced to this very day.

Now, bound by a captivating softback cover printed with Angela Lindvall‘s face and punctured by ring-binder holes that speak to Prada’s intrinsically functional first designs in place of text, those hyperreal images come together in an angular and abstract photobook published by Dover Street Market’s unconventional book dealer, Idea. Titled Norbert Schoerner Prada Archive 1998–2002, the tome (precursored by Glen Luchford’s Prada 96-98) chronicles Schoerner‘s seminal campaigns across 178 pages that remain true to the DNA of the Prada brand.

Jonny Lu Studio is the brain behind the volume’s daring art direction and design which, through a curiously multidimensional system, folds the pages into a palpably sculptural experience. More than a photobook, it’s an objet d’art; a “rigorously minimalist object” that collates form and function, allowing Schoerner’s photography to speak for itself.

“In these four years, Prada was so dominant, the very definition of designer fashion,” says David Owen, co-founder of Idea. “The cut and the materials completely defined the time. Without actually being futuristic or space age, Prada and Prada Sport somehow made the present so good that no one thought the future could ever get any better! Norbert’s campaigns are built on that – they are hyperreal but still real. And, arguably, our own world is further away now from the image he created.”

Photography courtesy of Prada. ‘Norbert Schoerner Prada Archive 1998–2002’ is now available for purchase from Idea. Shop here.