It shouldn’t be part of anyone’s job to be treated this way. Nearly one-fifth of the way through the 21st century, you shouldn’t have to walk up five flights of stairs in a brand new construction to do your job. (Should you choose to, more power to you and your quads.) Nor should you wait for 25 minutes, without any explanation let alone apology, with hundreds of other people in front of an elevator that just doesn’t open (even if, when it finally arrives, it opens onto an industrial take on pretty pink). Along the way, you shouldn’t be pushed by one guard and refused basic assistance by two others, no matter how uncool they (rightfully) deem you.
That out of the way, on Thursday night, Miuccia Prada showed another powerful, intriguing collection, this one inspired in part by her change of venue to the newest addition to the Fondazione Prada complex, a newly constructed tower. Its black floor and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over a field of neon signs got Prada thinking about how women navigate the night. “I liked the idea of the night, the night as the place for adventure, the place of freedom and its limits,” she said during a preshow press conference. “Women, on the one hand, have to be strong and protected, aggressive and powerful. On the other side, you bring with you all the characteristics of femininity, sometimes carried on from our past and how you’ve been raised.”
Prada also mused about safety concerns. Whether or not that was because of the #MeToo movement, who knows? “I always say, if you want to go out at night naked you should be able to. It’s part of the individual freedom,” she said, before acknowledging that belief and reality can at times collide. “The other night, at my age, I walked a bit and I felt insecure, so I can imagine a young girl who wants to go out [dressed] sexy, why not? Probably she feels insecure.”
Somehow, Prada funneled all that through her intellectual, sociopolitical fashion perspective and out came a captivating, characteristically provocative collection. It played classic tropes of femininity — corsetry, flowers, veiling, bows, sequins — against traditional men’s wear fabrics; high-tech, industrial materials, and elements of sports. Shapes range from gentle to big and bulky, sometimes in combination. And throughout came the message that Prada women do not go quietly into the dark night.
The clothes were as complicated and compelling as the overall message — to what degree one decoded it. Certainly, there were fabulous dresses, skirts, coats of the dressed-up variety played against serious sportiness — much of it flashing newfangled logos.
A cynic might say that Prada crafted a deep-thoughts motif around a merch-driven objective: to remind that when it comes to luxury’s integration of sport and street, she was way ahead of the curve; hence the healthy dose of Prada Sport on view. She herself acknowledged the conundrum of using the runway to address issues larger than fashion. “How to combine the horizons of our thoughts with the reality of our job,” Prada said, “which, after all, is a business of luxury companies which sell luxury goods to rich people?”
That Prada is willing to articulate that internal dilemma is admirable. That she can tackle it on her runway with great clothes makes her brand’s fall fashion horizon plenty alluring.