“The aim was to make something useful and which made sense.” So said Miuccia Prada during her pre-show press conference on Thursday. One of fashion’s deepest thinkers and most creative participants — a rare duality — Prada is also a lifelong feminist, and uses her runway to examine the nature of femininity and women’s stature in the culture while never minimizing the runway’s primary purpose: to deliver fashion.
Prada showed at the Fondazione Prada in the same square arena-like construction she used for men’s. This time, she had the walls painted with bold flowers derived from Viennese Secessionist art, and she replaced the horse-and-rider sculpture that stood center-floor at men’s with one of Atlas. Prada said that during the rehearsal she noticed more layers than in her men’s show because “there is the contrast between lightness and so-called frivolousness of these flowers on the walls and the weight of the world, the responsibilities, the problems and so on, on [women’s] shoulders.”
Prada sought to accomplish two things here, first “to represent women’s strength.” That’s nothing new; it’s been a leitmotif of her entire career. This time out, she was surprised to find herself “veering toward lightness, the so-called frivolousness and clichés of glamour,” which she maintains are not frivolous at all, but “the essence of female strength.” The other concept was “valuing and glamorizing everyday things.”
That in itself — invocation of the word glamour — indicates significant movement for Prada. She once loathed the word; perhaps she found it anachronistic or degrading to women. Now she views it as an empowerment tool. “Glamour in the sense of something optimistic that helps you,” she said.
This show pulsed with power glam in the way Prada does it — strong, confident, a touch off-kilter. She started with the counterpoint of structure and softness, a Forties-nodding jacket belted over a swingy fringe skirt; similar looks with carwash skirt alternatives followed. Sometimes she swapped in a simple pullover for a jacket, or added a button-down shirt and red tie. She also showed sportswear iterations, layering unconstructed car coats, jackets, shirts, sweaters and skirts. She worked mostly from a base of men’s wear fabrics, adding the lightness in filmy dresses and skirts for layering and endless fringed and beaded details. Ditto the palette: a base of mannish neutrals, which Prada played against red accents and strong pastels for athletic-derived pieces and some terrific belted puffer jackets-cum-elegant outerwear.
As strong as the collection looked, it could have looked even better — up close. The graduated arena seating put too much space between model and viewer, and some nuance got lost. But the distance couldn’t dilute the primary takeaway: thinking woman’s glam.