Prada’s most important collection to date

Changing the pace: Prada’s most important collection to date for spring summer 2013 at Milan Fashion Week

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Miuccia Prada surely commands the longest backstage queue of well wishers in the fashion world.

Plenty of time then to take in what the visionary designer was wearing: a crinkled white t-shirt dress, simple flat caramel plastic sandals, a string of grey pearls around her neck and a bamboo bangle pushed to the top of each arm. Even the smallest sartorial minutiae feels like a vital clue – bamboo, the beginning of next season’s cruise collection?

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Prada had just delivered one of her finest spring summer collections to date, and yet she was as cool and unflappable as ever amidst the throng and hyperbole: ‘Amazing! Very Cyber 1960s! Incredible! Beautiful!’ exclaimed one acolyte.

In fact, as she explained, it was about none of these things: ‘The whole collection was based on the independent mind of the woman, the impossibilities for women, expressing the sentiments and feelings of women. It was also based on the rectangular folding shape and the flower.’ A daisy? A poppy? ‘A symbolic flower,’ she said, cryptically. And the Japanese aspects of the show? ‘Yes, Japanese in the sense of the same tough, rigorous approach, but very delicate also.’ And the fur, for summer? ‘Again a symbol of impossibilities - so much is forbidden now. I feel, all of us maybe feel, that we have to have a certain behaviour now, that you can’t be decadent.’

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Translation? Result? Clothes?

The show opened with a stark little black dress – a white flower creeping up the chest – in the kind of precise, abbreviated shape you think of when you think 1960s. The focus was on the feet: wafer-flat pale pink leather zip-up sock boots with a kind of ribbon thong.

The footwear was the thing: with every outfit – neat, sharp, black, navy or white, a red flower (the type a child might draw) appliqued on skirts, stamped on bags, printed in clusters on coats – the shoes rose. Literally. Higher and higher the platforms stacked, sometimes in wood with a fist-sized hole in the middle, or sprouting a metallic boot, and culminating in the most lavishly decorated Geisha shoe/boot with red ribbon wrapped around the ankle, that recalled the ancient act of foot binding. (Will these be sold in store? ‘Yes, but lower,’ she said).

The second act – in terms of the clothes – looked to origami for inspiration, all rectangular folds, falling sashes and kimono sleeves. All cut from the palest pink and mint green duchess satin, following the same short sharp spare shapes as before and with the addition of duster coats and naïve embroideries of that symbolic red flower.

So it was about liberating the female spirit? Saying to women – “nothing is off-limits” and “do as you damn well please?” Who knows. Nothing is straightforward in Miuccia’s world. And isn’t that precisely what keeps us interested? That, and some very, very pretty clothes.

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