When one goes to a Prada show and doesn't find a big message — or, worse yet, fears having missed it — confusion can set in. Especially as the follow-up to fall's urban-warrior spectacular, the collection Miuccia Prada showed on Tuesday felt oddly subdued and without a major point beyond an array of beautiful, very commercial clothes.
What's wrong with that, you say? Not a thing in the world, except for the wow-factor expectation that precedes Prada's every move, and that her presentations bear a subtle grandeur to which the fashion must stand up.
Here, she set her audience up for just that: Her set featured a graphic could-be-Eastern/could-be-Aztec projection, and the first look out, the girl all turbaned and satined atop bare legs, looked like the prelude to a stunner.
This established a Forties' tone that continued throughout while never achieving the designer's typical depth. It vacillated between serious chic, in gorgeous, lean dresses and a high-polish pinup festival; the gam-flashing courtesy of shorts; swimwearish microminis, and blouses belted over briefs, some accessorized with utilitarian backpacks for that dose of modern edge. She also tinkered with sheer in girlish frocks over ample undies as well as out-there evening looks made of cast-off bottle caps à la Alexander Calder.
After the show, Prada preferred not to elaborate, but when pressed, cited as a reference not the Forties but the Twenties, along with China, India, Africa and nurses' uniforms.
"Beauty is a moral concept," she said. "Beauty is the search for good." And in fashion, the search is for good clothes, which Prada provided.
As for a larger concept — moral or otherwise — it was not included this season.
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A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"