wednesday addams was miuccia's muse at prada this season
War and love and teen angst were all explored in Miuccia’s autumn/winter 19 collection.
Inside the OMA-designed fashion laboratory that is the Fondazione Prada, the same theatrical field of lights that filled the autumn/winter 19 men’s show space was used once more as Miuccia Prada added to her wild experimentations for the autumn/winter 19 womenswear show. Building on the men’s collection, Miuccia manipulated romance tropes, added teen emo bedroom angst, the muses of Wednesday Addams and the bride of Frankenstein’s monster and so much more. This was a detail-filled collection of contradictions that demanded closer inspection. “Romance and fear are the two forces I feel the moment,” she explained simply post-show. “Fear because of the danger of our times, romance for ideals and goodness. We narrate the good and the bad together, which kind of corresponds with our times.”
Entitled Anatomy of Romance, Miuccia Prada explored romance both as an artistic pursuit and part of the human experience. Both interpretations place an emphasis on emotion and individualism, on feeling, a reaction against the rational, and a tension between nature and civilisation. From walking the tightrope of good/bad taste, pitching beauty against ugliness, the natural with the man-made, Miuccia Prada continually crafts out of contradictions so she was in her creative element here. As the Michel Gaubert-produced soundtrack bounced from the Addams Family theme tune to a violin cover of Bad Romance, Qual’s Existential Nihilism and Marilyn Manson, Miuccia’s own megamix clashed the familiar with the unexpected, the feminine with the masculine, the beautiful with the weird.
She took on traditional romance with a collage of archetypal and direct symbols of love. Archaic gestures of Valentine’s Day love and gifts of seduction -- flowers, hearts, lace, a bow, and even a thunderbolt as coup de foudre -- were printed and stitched intermittently throughout the military-infused tailoring and sculpted femininity. “Each girl was a piece of a love story,” Miuccia added. “The flowers and lace are typical symbols of love, but romance is so many other things too.” There’s a danger to love and this was captured in the an undeniable sense of first-love teenage angst that ran throughout the collection, with a coming-of-age Wednesday Addams as its muse wearing combat boots to kick the world’s ass. Elsewhere, she built on the Frankenstein’s motif symbolism explored in the men’s collection by finding it a bride, doodled by Jeanne Detallante and applied to knitwear. “Frankenstein came from a way of talking about the rejected,” the designer reminded us. “As the monster, even he wants love, so we did a marriage and a marriage picture.” That’s love. “We have to make it light, it’s a fashion show,” Miuccia Prada explained when asked about the Wednesday Addams braids and the horror motifs. “The position of a fashion designer is difficult today, it needs to do more work, lighter elements and serious elements working across subjects.” This is another contradiction that Miuccia Prada isn’t afraid to tackle.
“Karl Lagerfeld said fashion designers should work and shut up,” Miuccia Prada noted during her pre-show press gathering, “I have thought the same thing at times, but I believe we need to talk. An important voice is requested from fashion on many topics, so this is a job with a double face, a two-fold task. On one side, it’s an industry powered by wealth and aimed at the wealthy, on the other, it’s social, it’s political,” she added.
“It’s difficult to approach [political-infused fashion] in an intelligent way, visions can easily be criticised,” she noted. And Prada has been criticised, most recently for figurines that were pulled from stores after they prompted outrage and accusations of blackface. As with Gucci’s reaction to their own blackface scandal, Prada apologised and promised to improve. While the design team were applying the finishing touches to this collection earlier this month, the house announced that Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates will co-chair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, the purpose of which is to “elevate voices of colour within the company and the fashion industry at-large”. This autumn/winter 19 collection was Prada’s fashion response. It was “a reaction to and reflection of our humanity, our strengths and fragilities”. The message was romance can be an antidote to the harshness of our times.