Don’t you love it when fashion gets political? Even faux-political, serving up talk-worthy snippets beyond which clothes you love or hate? It hasn’t happened often as of late. Enter Miuccia Prada. At her preshow press conference on Thursday, Prada offered a sound bite that could trigger days of conversation. The intent behind her engaging school-girlish collection was to make “glamorous and sexy materials” (python, sequins, fur) “more innocent and fresh.” “The collection is not exactly childlike, but more ingénue….It’s fun, with a cartoon effect,” she said. “Women should look…more innocent, rather than making girls look like women.”
Come again on that last one? Even in this crazy industry, few people would take issue with the second half of the statement; what non-SVU episode type champions adolescents tarting themselves up before their time?
As for the first part: Women should look charming — check. Witty — if a gal’s got it in her. But more innocent? If Prada is proposing that women feign innocence and dress like overindulged majorettes, why? Because, just like injectable fillers and core-strengthening classes, a Peter Pan collar helps women deny the ultimately futile notion that we can turn back time? Or because said Peter Pan collar and its juvenile associations play to certain yearnings in men who may still be intimidated by strong women, and still carry a torch for the eighth-grade hottie?
Maybe. Or maybe Prada thinks women should look more innocent because change is core to fashion, and a year ago she showed an ultrawomanly collection that focused on the bust.
Whatever her reasoning, Prada keeps fashion interesting; she triggers conversation. Long lauded (and sometimes mocked) as a fashion intellectual, she’s also willing to risk high silliness in the name of style. (Spring banana skirts, anyone?) It works because behind all the provocation is a rare talent; season in, season out, Prada makes powerful statements with her clothes.
For fall she did indeed go girlish. But show us the chic woman who couldn’t find a winning coat in this lineup. Yes, one saw an Olive Oyl (or was it Orphan Annie?) waft to graphic, low-belted dresses, all mixed box plaids, outsized borders and giant buttons. But plain silk versions looked ageless; both stood up to inventive maryjane-python boots. As for those shimmery fish-scale paillette numbers, Prada seemed on the same wavelength as Marc Jacobs (it’s happened before). But while he went arch, she worked the gentle, sweet side of plastic adornment. And Prada’s cocktail dresses are descaled in back, for ease of sitting. What girl or woman could argue with that?