“Simplicity is rebellion.”
So said Miuccia Prada during a preview of the resort collection she showed on Thursday night. Prada referred specifically to the clothes, which she described as “naïve, cotton, simple,” but the thought extended to the event itself. At a moment when, in the luxury sweepstakes for sales and social media attention, her primary competition rents out major world monuments and airline terminals, Prada preferred to show at home. Or at one of her homes. In this case, her brand’s New York headquarters on 52nd Street overlooking the Hudson River. “I like to do the shows in my own spaces,” she said.
Yet while Prada may reject (for now at least) the kind of extravagant wanderlust of her competitors, this was no quiet little soiree. A star-studded guest list including Elle Fanning, Shailene Woodley, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton, Anderson Paak, Hailee Steinfeld, Marc Jacobs, Char Defrancesco and Sofia Coppola turned out, many reveling through four stages of festivities: boisterous pre-show cocktail, show, post-show informal dinner, after party.
Simple in its open concept and egalitarian flow — OK. Low-key — definitely not, offering an Instagrammable someone or something at every turn. Within that framework, Prada presented a lineup she characterized as simple and “the opposite of a big deal.” Happily, not all simple fashion is equal. For all her intellectual musings — and they’re typically fascinating — Prada is a fashion girl at heart. The only way she knows how to rebel against fashion excess is with real fashion. (A touch of irony: As she took her stand against “too much,” anti-fur protesters demonstrated outside, and at least one infiltrated the party. This, even though Prada hasn’t put fur on her runway in several seasons, and here showed only one shearling coat, along with some leathers.) She believes that real fashion starts not with marketing, but with compelling product, product that is beautiful or provocative or otherwise interesting or all of the above. Product that says something to both wearer and viewer.
That Prada is able to deliver that kind of fashion from a baseline of simplicity speaks to her place at the forefront of fashion’s creativity pool. She started with cotton, cotton and more cotton, with a major emphasis on men’s shirting. She manipulated their cuts and proportions, sometimes splicing them into loose silk dresses. Sporty layerings projected preppy-with-an-arty-streak, the latter side of that equation heightened in multiprint collage frocks. Some cuts referenced the designer’s Nineties work without replicating it; so too, did rose and geometric prints. As for the intended naïveté, Prada spelled it out via sweet folkloric embroidery. But lest it turn too sweet, she finished many looks with a recurring accessory — a variant on the striped varsity muffler, her version skinny and flashing lively paillettes. Just a little stretch of sweater knit, but brilliant in its feisty sportif.