Prada Fall 2012 RTW


It is entirely typical of Miuccia Prada that a collection which, for her at least, was a celebration of fashion at its purest, should read in photographs like an assault on the very notion she was attempting to exalt. With their hair and makeup, Guido Palau and Pat McGrath endeavored to project "virtual princesses," avatars of fashion's digital age. On the catwalk, the models looked a little like a replicant army, even more so in photos. 


It was a powerful image, which dovetailed neatly with the statement about power that Miuccia made with her men's collection in January. But that wasn't actually the message she wanted to communicate. The canapés that were served before and after the show (and remember, these are significant markers of the essence of every Prada collection) included sweet-treat meringues and chocolates topped by crystallized violets. "Pleasure," Miuccia explained. "Everyone has a theory about their collections these days, but I'm sick of theory. This collection is about the pleasure of fashion."


In her eyes, the designer was making a statement about the enduring human aspiration to beauty, inspired, in part, by the natural world around us. Beauty, Prada style, is a sui generis proposition. The elements Miuccia chose read, in some respects, like a Prada's greatest hits: the mutated menswear, the bad-taste jacquards, the pajama dressing, the embellishment (and maybe even the Numanoid electronica from soundtrack architect Frederic Sanchez that underpinned the whole shebang).

But such reduction can never do justice to the depth of fascinating thought and research that go into a Prada collection. The show-opening black coat-dresses, for instance, looked like hybrid morning coats, which harked back to the antique diplomat formality of the Prada men's show. But that also reflected Miuccia's conviction that the fashion of the future will take refuge in the past.

(That's hardly a new notion—just look at Blade Runner, a movie that may have been a reference here.)

Then there were the embroideries. As precious as they appeared, they were actually multilayered constructs of Plexi and sequins, but what they conveyed, said Miuccia, was "importance." She felt that was a more significant message for women than mere power. In its own way, it was oddly seductive. The imposingly stern quality of these clothes will likely lay out an influential new path for women's-wear. 



In her eyes, the designer was making a statement about the enduring human aspiration to beauty, inspired, in part, by the natural world around us. Beauty, Prada style, is a sui generis proposition. The elements Miuccia chose read, in some respects, like a Prada's greatest hits: the mutated menswear, the bad-taste jacquards, the pajama dressing, the embellishment (and maybe even the Numanoid electronica from soundtrack architect Frederic Sanchez that underpinned the whole shebang).

But such reduction can never do justice to the depth of fascinating thought and research that go into a Prada collection. The show-opening black coat-dresses, for instance, looked like hybrid morning coats, which harked back to the antique diplomat formality of the Prada men's show. But that also reflected Miuccia's conviction that the fashion of the future will take refuge in the past.

(That's hardly a new notion—just look at Blade Runner, a movie that may have been a reference here.)

Then there were the embroideries. As precious as they appeared, they were actually multilayered constructs of Plexi and sequins, but what they conveyed, said Miuccia, was "importance." She felt that was a more significant message for women than mere power. In its own way, it was oddly seductive. The imposingly stern quality of these clothes will likely lay out an influential new path for women's-wear. 




















Lit by overhead neon-light strips, and with purple carpet embellished with deco-Navajo motifs underfoot, Miuccia Prada’s 41-strong girl army marched out one by one with martial precision of movement, kohl-smudged eyes, and ironed hair lengthened with extensions in contrasting (but natural) shades to their own.

When they returned for their final file-past, they looked even more like a fashion battalion—all dressed as they were in subtly nuanced versions of the same unrelenting (and, unless you are a six-foot Amazon, relatively unforgiving) silhouette: a lean pant with a dainty flare cropped just above the ankle and a high-waist jacket (generally defined with a martingale-buttoned belt), topcoat, or tunic.

To extend the line, they wore platform shoes with the flare-heel profile evocative of the playful footwear that John Fluevog made for Deee-Lite’s Lady Miss Kier, circa 1990, only these were lacquered with a contrast latex paint strip in a broad horizontal band. (One brief passage substituted mannish Oxford’s with platform-crepe soles.)

And the models each gripped vari-scaled satchels, doctor’s bags, or the daintiest minaudière-scaled purses.

This powerfully focused show opened with black pieces in the sort of thick, spongy wools favored by the Paris haute couturiers in the early sixties (as well as Persian lamb), glistening with luxe rectangular jet lozenges on revers and weighting the pant hems. The opening jacket had a bustle-pleat effect in back, and there were abstract tailcoat panels giving interest to the back of the lean 7/8 coats—Miuccia’s own uniquely idiosyncratic take on the Edwardian theme that has laced the collections.

And was that repeated crystal and jet embroidery motif a Metropolis-era comet or an eye winking through clouds? A subtle nod to Elsa Schiaparelli, perhaps, the brilliant maverick Italian-born couturiere who collaborated with the surrealists and will be celebrated at the Costume Institute’s exhibition later this spring, in conversation with Miuccia’s own provocative, irresistible oeuvre.

Perhaps inspired by a trip through her archives, Miuccia seemed to have mined her own fashion house history for those over-scale embroideries, and also for the geometric prints and vivid color combinations. Evocative of sixties decorator David Hicks, those hexagon and lozenge designs were especially Op Art eye-popping when different motifs were used for coat, pant, purse, and shoe.

And in case you were wondering, yes, Miuccia did show skirts and dresses—over pants.

Of course, back in the showroom there will doubtless be a whole universe of options, but it is the mark of Miuccia Prada’s strength that she can focus a runway show with this much acuity.

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