Prada’s night-time girl
A rather sensational show by Miuccia Prada, political, feminist and audacious, as well as being a meditation on the role of fashion in an increasingly authoritarian age. Its theme – the right of women to go out in the night and be whoever they want to be.
And, a clear declaration by Signora Prada that no rival is going to knock her off her pedestal as the reigning champion of Italian high fashion.
The show was staged inside the Fondazione Prada, in the art center’s eight-story high corner building, where the cast marched over several floors. The action opened with a black model in classic black Prada nylon though cut into a matelassé coatdress before Miuccia gradually injected a kaleidoscope of color. Initially, burnished crimson, gold and orange in high-tech waffle materials made into artily sexy shoulder-less cocktails.
Mega plissé pink dresses; paired with Scottish check boleros or sleeveless stevedore jackets. Pretty well every fabric had a techy finish – all the way to the padded neon hued parkas. The colors were often dazzling, even more so in the all black runway and bleacher seating.
“The whole problem of my job is how to make women powerful but still be feminine. I always say people should be free to go out at night and still be powerful,” explained Miuccia to FashionNetwork.com, at a post-show cocktail.
The finale featured big sporty parkas and coats that were hyper protective. But at the same time retaining femininity, since they covered dresses made in very basic feminine materials like paillette and tulle. Most looks finished with whimsical emblems – apes dangling from triangles; triple bananas or dinosaurs in tiny cages. And, in a truly brilliant piece of staging; the same images were magnified a 100-fold into huge neon signs that stood above a mass of railway tracks opposite the Fondazione Prada.
“That’s my little take on Las Vegas. I believe that clothes are made for when times are good. The moment there is any problem, fashion disappears. The exhibition we are doing now here is about Italy under fascism. During that regime, well, art disappeared,” shrugged Prada.
She was referring to a remarkable museum show curated by Germano Celant, entitled Post Zang Tumb Tuuum, Art Life Politics: Italia 1918-1943, a huge meditation on the architecture, design, graphics, sculpture and painting made in Italy during Mussolini’s reign.
“I worry what people expect from fashion – as it is so popular – that you have to go beyond your job. But to be serious sociologically and politically and also make fashion. That is a little scary. Sometimes they ask me to do politics – but in my position as a rich fashion designer, I cannot be useful. So, I ask myself, how can fashion be a voice without being superficial. Fashion is still very badly considered – but it should not be. Yet, we are still considered frivolous, even if we try to be honest and believable,” sighed Prada.
Inevitably something of the exhibition seeped into the collection, notably the bold primal colors of paintings Giacomo Balla and Umberto Boccioni echoed the dazzling cocktail dresses. Even the sculpted forms of the nylon coats hinted at the bold curvilinear shapes of the great re-discovery of the exhibition, sculptor Adolfo Wildt, noted for his marble statues extreme smoothness and sense of drama.
“My thoughts are influencing the choice of the Fondazione as I direct it – so what worries me in art worries me for fashion. What I feel very strongly right now is the lack of freedom – we live under a regime. First of all under the regimes of China and Russia. And in another way here – from the fear of being politically correct, or losing your job. So, we have to be ready to respond to the threat of fascism. Artists have the sense of how they are forced to behave under a regime. There are so many laws written and unwritten. We are not living under fascism, thank God. But there is subtlety of the regime, always being careful to be politically correct; the power of money; of the boss and the restriction of choices. When things get tough, even art disappears, as much as fashion does when things go badly. Fashion and art are made in positive moments, so in dark moments they are under threat,” opined Prada.
Asked about the Me Too movement, she responded: “I have been thinking about it for so many years. It’s time we really try to make it happen.”
Now, one could list a score of editors in Milan this week who are ready to say, though obviously anonymously, that they greatly admire Alessandro Michele’s success at Gucci; both creatively and commercially. For Michele is the new star of la moda Italiana. Yet, at the end of his shows, these same editors still comment that despite the opulent eccentric beauty of all of Michele’s collections, they do look a little similar.
Which is the last thing one could write about this latest show by Miuccia Prada. Nobody would even dream of that. In a word, Miuccia Prada, the heavyweight champion of Milan fashion, has not lost her crown.
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