At MFW, Prada Dares You To Be Revolutionary

From ostrich feathered helmets to dramatic swingy skirts, Prada took us back to the Seventies with her politically-inspired runway show.

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It was almost as if it was a dare.

Miuccia Prada didn't mention any politicians by name backstage at her show. But it was impossible not to look at her Seventies-inspired clothing on the runway and the political posters hanging on the backdrop, and not think about feminism in the age of Trump.

Backstage, sandwiched between huge masses of well-wishers and beaming in the aftermath of what many editors unanimously agreed was her best show in years, Prada talked about 'revolution' and the need to persevere through 'the struggle.'

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Based on the political statements we've seen on the runway this month, you could almost interpret the White House directive that female staff members 'dress like a woman' as a dare, one which an ever-increasing list of designers have been all too ready to reply to with a sartorial Eff You this month.

Most of the political statements we've seen at the shows have so far been neat, quick and tidy in t-shirt form. The problem is, feminism and the battle to protect equality have been anything but.

That's a fact Prada seemed to recognise in her show, which appeared to explore the making of a woman, her political awakening and the long haul commitment needed to win battles. The fact that this message comes from someone as influential as Prada (where she goes, much of the fashion world still follows) only adds to the excitement, of which there was a lot of in the room.

Speaking of, the show space had more importance than usual this time around. Her set, staged as a series of dimly lit Seventies-era bedrooms with shaggy duvets, mid-century nightstands and political posters on the wall, made clear the messages her complex clothes implied.

To look at her chocolate covered, flared leg corduroy suits, colorful shaggy and snakeskin belted coats and tall boots is to assume this is a Seventies comeback, following on from ideas we've seen in New York and London.

It would be easy to interpret her flamboyant ostrich feathered helmets, chunky crochet knits and Mongolian boots as the rise of texture or read her dramatic swingy skirts and decorative, bejeweled cardigans (that's trending by the way) as a return to glamour. And it's not that this collection wasn't all those things.

But the words on the walls communicated a much deeper meaning. For example, one poster read: 'It is hard to think that any form of cultural production will be exiled from taking a position in favour of the liberal values we share.'

Another said: 'Fashion is about the everyday and the everyday is the political stage of our freedoms. For the woman [sic] show we have decided to look at the role that woman had in the shaping of modern society, their political participation and social achievements.'

Other looks on the runway seemed to reference the looks of famous protestors: hints of the Sixties and Seventies era Black Panther party here, Standing Rock Sioux leather fringing there.

This was Prada daring us to engage in not just fashion, but the fashion of politics, and most importantly the work of 'the struggle' itself. This was also Prada making plain that an intellectual, activist mind does not preclude beauty and glamour. And that to dress like a woman does not mean to check your values at the door.

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