There are few designers who can excite a fashion audience like Miuccia Prada. And her show tonight proved why. She isn’t just a designer. She is a champion of women. You only have to witness backstage and the scrum of (mostly female) fashion reporters that circle her, their iPhones switched to microphone, straining to hear her every utterance, to understand how important she is to fashion - particularly women in fashion.
Her intention is always to find a new way to empower women through clothes. As she put it: ‘I was concerned with women and the strength of women. We are here, we are strong, we are visible, we are kind of fighters…I wanted to give encouragement, to be out there.’
She did this with every aspect of her show. The collection played out against a backdrop of awe-inspiring murals. Great, bold, emotive paintings of women by muralists El Mac, Mesa, Gabriel Specter, Stinkfish, Jeanne Detallante and Pierre Mornet. Prada had commissioned these artists to do ‘something strong, to paint faces and bodies of women, but in the end they only painted faces, so I thought I had to provide the bodies’. And provide she did.
This was an orgy of colour, embellishment, sportswear, streetwear, glamour, elegance and cool. What better way to zero in on female empowerment than to focus on the bra? They came festooned with jewels, embedded on coats in jet beading, worn over skinny sweaters with striped sporty ribbed collars and cuffs, as a bejewelled top in sunflower yellow, as a black detail on a green dress, or forming a scarlet bra-shape on an orange fur coat.
Prada also depicted women more literally with the mural portraits themselves re-cast on the clothes. ‘I didn’t at first want to do the faces because I thought it was too obvious, but then, I couldn’t resist,’ she said. The most elaborate came out as finale pieces, thick with jewels; they emblazoned simple shift dresses that popped with colour and were worn, like the rest of the collection, with football-striped calf-warmers and either high theatrically-heeled shoes or thick, white moulded-rubber-soled sports sandals. Almost every model carried a bag – small boxy handbags, mainly - in a multitude of colours, leathers and maximal embellishment. No two bags were the same. No two looks were the same.
This was a (tightly controlled) riot of inspiring, joyful, brave, beautiful clothes. Prada ended on a rainbow dress. It was strapless and jewel-encrusted, with bold curves of colour across one thigh and beneath it, the eyes of a woman staring out at us.
It was daring and seminal. As Miuccia Prada put it: ‘Yes, it was a very personal collection.’