Oh, the fashion flip-flop, and we don’t mean shower shoes. “The idea was to move away from all the fussy, couture-derived fashion that I think has become too heavy and overexploited,” Miuccia Prada said, with near disdain, before her show. Exploited? Wasn’t Prada herself spring’s primary proponent of haute-y chic, with those glorious laces worked into chichi power clothes?
Nevertheless, for spring Prada went, in her words, primitive and archaic, yet sophisticated. And if the result didn’t rise to the level of her most stunning collections, it offered ample evidence of her ongoing mastery of the finely honed idea. She started with a retro sexy secretary silhouette cut from structured, well-rumpled fabrics (a cotton-metal weave) and added lots of beribboned drawstring parachute action. It looked as if the “Mad Men” gals were getting a little something on the side from Mad Max (and maybe Ton Sur Ton). Thus, lady suits were de-ladified, bras exposed, fanny wraps tied on, while a picnic twinset got cropped to naughty heights over a thigh-baring, bunched-up fish-print skirt. And Prada gave a new wrinkle (make that wrinkles) to the endless dress craze in terrific casual shifts cut asymmetrically to slip off the shoulder or draw attention to one breast.
As for the accessories, it was all about the shoes, and not in a good way. The mile-high platforms strapped on over what appeared to be Prada’s take on Peds might have been impressive, had half of the girls not had major trouble walking and thus looked absolutely petrified. At least one fell (the meandering stage set didn’t allow for full viewing), and one bailed on the finale. Folks, more sculptural, higher, chunkier, clunkier, strappier, bondage-ier — we get it. But maybe it’s time to cry uncle and downgrade to shoes that function as shoes, even on the runway. First, that oh-God-I’m-a-mom-don’t-let-the-poor-girl-fall anxiety becomes a huge distraction for the audience. Second, a fashion show is still supposed to have some commercial tie-in, however abstract or theoretical. What does it say if the girls paid to walk in the shoes can’t walk in the shoes?