soft pop at prada autumn/winter 15
Bored of fantasy, Miuccia Prada got real with her fakeness on the second day of Milan Fashion Week.
"It was the cliché of what women like: colours, bows, and decoration," Miuccia Prada said backstage after her autumn/winter 15 show, flawlessly quotable as ever. Fed up with the fakeness of fashion fantasies, she created something so unreal it couldn't have been faker. But weirdly, it came full circle to the point where this became one of the realest Prada collections in seasons. Why? Because it was old-school Prada: what she does best. From the pistachio and candyfloss coloured walls of the set - a nod to the interiors of the original Prada stores - to the collection's many masterly exercises in subversion. There was the bubblegum fabric (in consistency, not colour) - a jersey that looked like neoprene - the herringbone and tweed jazzed up awkwardly with big jewels, panels of mink, and those big bows, and an almost cartoonish molecule print, included by Mrs Prada to remind us how genetically modified it all was.
At her men's show in January, the designer talked about the pressures of creating for a cutthroat commercial market. "When you do the women's, you're obliged to have more and more and more, and you are never able to do what sometimes you really care most about," she said. Seeing the women's collection, it was clear what Prada had been talking about back then, and how she had dealt with her frustrations. Instead of coming up with something new the way Prada always does and is expected to, she came up with something old, a kind of middle finger to a commercial market that doesn't always respond in the same way to her new ideas. If people don't have the patience and, frankly, intellect for something new and developing, they can have something old and familiar in the most epic way ever. Mrs Prada wrote the book on this kind of collection, and it seemed like a walk in the park to her. Let them eat cake—and drench it in sugar.
"Very soft pop," she said dryly, with the kind of ironical distance that's always detectable in the voice - and collections - of Prada. It was little Britney's princess dream, cutesy dresses and pretty hairdos and dainty ostrich bags in tow, so oversaturated with sweetness it became futuristic in its expression. Perhaps it was that foamy jersey they had developed, but the tailoring had an almost spaceship suit-y quality to it: Star Trek, the Teenage Years. In that sense the collection borrowed a lot from the world of Miu Miu - a top seller under the Prada umbrella - with its young, fun aesthetic. Easy to wear, easy to understand. Because the brilliant but convoluted references Prada sometimes works with, and which she's definitely dabbled in over past seasons, set high expectations for the cleverness of the average fashion costumer, who isn't always as historically, socially, politically and intellectually knowledgeable as one could hope for.
If designers don't feel like they can meet their costumers on mutual ground, they can always pass them a sly underhand in the shape of something they do understand, but which actually means something totally different. "It was very princess-y," someone inquired backstage. "Yes," Mrs Prada said, "but I hope there was the irony of it." The inclusion of tweeds in the collection seemed to be the designer's safe haven: the element that made it all bearable for her in the sea of artifice and powdery pastels. "That was to introduce some humanity. The fabric was so kind of fake, so the tweed introduced the human side." Afterwards, it was impossible to find a member of the press corps, who didn't like what they had seen. Scored with Melanie de Biaiso's I Feel You and Dance of the Hours from Fantasia, it was a pleasant ride through Prada's historical amusement park, and one that'll make us all come back for more. Sold!
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams