Then and now. It was during the Nineties that Miuccia Prada rocketed to fame on the strength of precision-cut, plain clothes, worn with attitude from austere to geeky. While she has long since abandoned minimalism for all kinds of expressive abundance, she can still work a clean, unfettered line.
Prada did so on Thursday, in absentia (she missed the show due to the death on Wednesday of her beloved maternal aunt). This wasn’t one of those collections that caused the fashion needle to hyper-gyrate. Rather it was a treatise on sartorial polish her way — which is to say it challenged classic notions of chic even as it built upon them. And the clothes looked great. Prada started with those clean shapes, and delivered them for spring with kinetic graphics and her ever-present dose of artful eccentricity that inspires even as it defies duplication. How eccentric? One could start with the gold lipstick and go from there.
In a sense this was a different side to spring’s pink-and-blue girliness, with tailoring again front and center. At the core: A square jacket and slim skirt in neutrals or mannish tweeds, only the skirts got extra panels that flapped in stride and the jackets, thin lines that defined seams and edged collars. Yet lest the message be singular and straightforward, Prada added out-there yokes, overlays of colorful fishnet and spangles with a DIY look that dared the perfect pieces beneath to take themselves too seriously. Soon, suitings morphed into dresses — latter-day flapper gems with dropped torsos; the tweeds into slick, shiny stripes in leather and snake. And before you knew it, Prada had unleashed a tidal wave of color, pattern and texture — digital bar prints; graphic, engineered knits; materials from transparencies to gloriously indiscreet gold snake, and ever more showers of spangles.
And most wonderfully, hers is an audacity grounded in the real. Prada knows how to put on a show in the fashion-theater sense of the word. But her theater is always an exploration of what makes sense for women. For spring, she transformed the known into the new.