why miuccia prada will never show her men's and women's collections together

Miuccia talks feminism, mixed gender runways, and how she plans to get men into flashier clothes.

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24 March 2016, 10:34pm

Hannah Thomson

One of Miuccia Prada's multifarious legacies will be her championing of the mixed gender runway. "I think the combination is more real," she said after her spring/summer 15 menswear show, at which women cameoed in printed tunics and 70s denim. "It is more today. Otherwise it looks like we are in classes, in the time of my grandfather, women divided from men." But the legendary designer is also the first to champion women as women — multi-faceted, contradictory, and brilliantly complex enough in their own right. So it might not come as a surprise that the pioneering designer has no plans to dilute the magic of either gender by combining men's and women's any time soon. 

"I am against it," she insisted in a new interview with WWD. "To do two creative shows in one is a massacre. And it has to be a huge show, if you want to do it seriously. Last time, someone complained that there were too many women [in the men's show] and that it distracted from the men's wear — and this is somewhat true, because women are showier and swallow up the rest. Together it could be very beautiful but I would shoot myself [laughs]. The way we work, at the last minute, with things arriving the day before if not the same day... Many designers have things ready ahead of time."

Prada's perspective on gender is arguably more progressive than most designers' approaches to the unisex movement. She may claim that women are "showier," but at the same time she doesn't see glitziness as an exclusively female aesthetic, lamenting that "men are not free to dress and embellish themselves like in the past." Like usual, she's right. Often fashion that claims to shun gender norms is really just proposing normcore for all. "I tried to open the possibilities for men, but without reaching the point of being exaggerated or unwearable," she says of her plans to subvert this trend. "I think it's more useful to start with something possible and then people will slowly accept more, rather than [presenting] exaggerated looks that could be simply rejected." At the same time, as she's demonstrated before, the most commercial menswear can be the most provocative. 

One thing getting the avowed feminist particularly excited is building up the position of women IRL — not just in fashion. "There are two trends — [women] that have given up and just want to be married and be kept, but luckily there is also a new apparent feminism in the new generation," she says. And you can't tell which is which by whether they're wearing heels or loafers. 

Credits


Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Hannah Thomson