Dispatches from Milan: Prada

Miuccia conjured a collection that was both futurist and retro-ist


Penned in by the usual three-layers-deep of journalists desperate to decipher her latest offering, jostling iPhones under her nose, questions shooting at her from every direction, Miuccia Prada said simply: ‘Soft pop.’ Two perfectly apt words that summed up the sweet and sour pastels and the peculiarly flat silky neoprene they were rendered in.

But that really only scratched the surface of Prada’s new world order. Leaving last season’s purple sand dunes and the frayed brocades of the sombre aristocrat-fallen-on-hard-times behind her, Miuccia – never one to stay within any kind of comfort zone – conjured a collection that was both futurist and retro-ist. The set, in pink and ‘Prada green’ (that’s pistachio) appeared to be part-spaceship, part-salon. The girls (definitely girls, as opposed to women) looked otherworldly yet familiar: up hair dos fastened with jewels, pale skin as if they’d never seen the light of day (perhaps having been cryogenically frozen in their space pods). Footwear was equally future-retro: either T-bar shoes with a metallic sheen, leather-socked booties or flat pumps with tractor-tyre soles – pretty versus ugly, intentionally contrary. Bags, meanwhile, were definitely of the retro persuasion – politely hand-held, most of them came in two-tones of leather.


And the clothes – this is a fashion show after all – were part of the same future/classic contradictory mould. A neat double-breasted trouser suit comprising boxy jacket and skinny cropped trousers might have said retro if it hadn’t been made in acidic green neoprene, just as the same shaped suit in herringbone tweed might have said classic, had it not featured broken stripes of pink fur down the front of its jacket. Neoprene shift dresses appeared to be printed with a broken pattern, Miuccia called it her ‘molecular print’, but, on close inspection, said print was in fact an embroidery in 3D neoprene, scattered with crystal. As the collection progressed, so too did the surface décor: fur, leather and jewels. Some of it real – mink, ostrich and diamonds. Some of it not – plastic flower brooches, fake fur and look-a-like leather.

This, it turned out, was her big analysis: ‘What is real and what is fake? I wanted to explore those variations on femininity and beauty,’ she said.

The great Prada debate – to love it or not – continued out on the street after the show. Proof, if any were needed, of Mrs Prada’s game-changing, pioneering fashion genius. Can we wear neoprene? Doesn’t it make you sweat and add inches all over? I preferred last season’s dark, twisted intellectual romance. Oh god, no, this was uplifting, optimistic, pretty! I definitely prefer it when she does clothes for grown-up women. But the colour was lovely! Won’t that pink coat look good on the cover. Those jewels will sell! So will the bags! I hated the shoes! I loved the shoes!

Practically needless to say: watch out for the Prada copies.


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