prada's post-modest spring/summer 16
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans
One of the great paradoxes in fashion is the industry's love-hate relationship with excess. It's the foundation upon which this entire trade is built, and yet the designers, who receive the coveted fashion stamp of 'cool' are always the biggest introverts and intellectually expressive: Martin Margiela, Phoebe Philo, and indeed Miuccia Prada—the so-called thinking woman and man's designers. In many ways, Prada's spring/summer 16 resort and men's collection could be seen as a sly but good-humored underhand to the consumer, who buys into this kind of fashion--the consumer who purchases meaningfulness. "Everything started from the idea of a t-shirt," Miuccia Prada said backstage. "It was the visual concept of the importance of impressing. Trying to analyze the concept between honesty, humanity and simplicity, compared with the necessity of being bold, aggressive and loud."
Continuing recent seasons' conversation on what is essentially known as normcore, Prada had christened the look 'post-modesty': a moniker for an unassuming way of dressing so forced it contradicts itself. "The dresses were, of course, at the end not modest at all because they were all done by hand. So actually, you realize that being a luxury brand, you can't show a t-shirt," she laughed. Obviously there was nothing modest about those sequinned coats, graphic striped tops and skirts, and dresses featuring bunny and eye motifs. Rather, this post-modesty Prada was talking about was to be found in the irony of something meaningless trying to be meaningful, or something expensive trying to look cheap. "They were chosen as the most infantile symbols," she said of the motifs, which had every show-goer guessing what deep Prada thoughts had gone into those rockets and race cars when, in fact, they were supposed to mean nothing at all.
"The whole idea was balancing the modesty with something bold, so it went through every possible idea of signs and symbols," Mrs Prada said. "But I never like to work with symbols because I don't like to simplify thoughts. Thoughts are so complicated that I think you can't put out a symbol that does anything, so we chose the most stupid ones. It was only graphic." Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth and Prada new that. Going through her magical discourse machine, those symbols came out more meaningful than ever. That brilliantly backwards idea repeated itself in the menswear where shiny short-shorts and skimpy vests meant literally that: stripped-down-ness, but then painstakingly styled up as an illustration of false modesty. "We didn't want to be sporty. Of course, every time we do shorts we tend to look like that, but it was about being more naked and human and normal," Mrs Prada explained.
On their own, the menswear garments had a natural modesty to them that the womenswear didn't, but a lot of the collection's voice was to be found in the high level of styling that went into every look and made it loud as opposed to simple. It was excess trying to look basic, with those perfectly crinkled socks, or those long thin sleeves coming out from under the cuffs of shirts. And perhaps most interestingly, what you took from it was the impression of a really nice summer collection, cute and unfussy the way Prada had imagined it, with at once so many and such few intellectual layers beneath the surface. In that sense, it was a spectacular illustration of that paradoxical fashion stamp of 'cool': it meant something because it didn't mean anything and that's cool. You could say the joke's on us, but we're the jokers.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans