Prada's stunning practicality

ELLE's take on the autumn-winter 2012 Prada show...

Miuccia Prada stood backstage, swamped by reporters and barely audible. ‘They’re very practical,’ she said of the shoes she was wearing. They were like the ones that had just appeared in the show – a high 1920s-ish heel - which she had almost toppled off when she took her bow. She talked about the tailoring and embellishment, the fact there were no dresses – NO DRESSES AT A PRADA SHOW! - and how black ‘felt important’, but colour ‘was fundamental for expressing yourself ’. As she talked her earrings – rendered in yellow, brown and black plastic resin – jangled.


Models, meanwhile, drifted past: their dramatic painted white cheekbones jutting, their eyebrows daubed with orange paint and eyes as black as coal. Their hair, goth black, had been dip-dyed at the ends with bleach. Up close, still in their show outfits, you could see the chunky crystals and resin ‘jewels’ that had been scattered across the collars of the stiff tailored coats and the hems of trousers. You could also see, hanging on the rails, the diamond patterned and fleur de lis printed silk shirts and matching woven trouser suits that had stormed the runway in popping shades of tangerine, purple, mustard and blue. And you could imagine these clothes hanging in the elite-architect-designed Prada stores around the world.


It was a stunning show. But it wasn’t one of Prada’s ground-breakers. Miuccia Prada, the single most contrary designer in the world who delights in teasing her audience with her capriciousness was, it turned out this season unpredictably in step with the times – with the darker, tougher spirit that has pervaded the season so far. Rather than dropping a bomb and making you rethink what you have seen, Prada echoed, in her own inimitable, brilliant way, what many designers are saying this season: that when times are tough we need to rely on the solid, not the ethereal, the wearable, not the fantasy. Hence, all the daywear grounded in (Prada-style) reality – the firm double-breasted suits, the trusted doctor’s bags, the solid black coats and heavy-soled (when they weren’t high) shoes. And, of course, those vital pops of colour to make us feel good.

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