Still waters run deep: Prada bores, but intentionally so
Given that shows, by and large, have scaled back from the flashy theatrics and set pieces of past fashion spectaculars, the quarterly reinvention of the Prada show space on Via Foggazarro is hotly anticipated by the fashion world. That’s because everything Miuccia Prada does about, around, before and after a collection is rabidly unpicked, scoured for hidden meaning.
This season, Rem Koolhaas’ AMO created a space reminiscent of either a grand ocean liner or a suburban leisure centre, with a suspiciously cobalt-blue pool shimmering bedside thick, chocolate-brown shag carpeting and around the central pillars that are the only constant (they’re supporting, presumably).
There was a touch of menace to that water – one unfortunate show attendee ended up in it (luckily, it was only a very precise 20cm deep). Luckily, they were the exception. For the vast majority of the audience, the menace was merely implied. There was something a little unsettling about it, and slightly distancing. It formed a literal gulf between guests and the models, a physical distance, a barrier.
On the one hand, that made you lose some of the details in these clothes. It also allowed those details Miuccia Prada magnified – the contrasts of colour, the thick stitching that outlined many of the jackets and trousers – to jut out even more, with fewer distractions. And, as an audience member, it made you look harder.
However, we always look hard at Miuccia Prada’s clothing. Occasionally, I wonder if she’s given too much credit – maybe it’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes, of an audience desperately searching for a hidden meaning when really it’s all on the surface?
No. Miuccia Prada is a very, very clever woman. And she makes some of the world’s cleverest clothes. They don’t have to look difficult, or even interesting, to be both of those things.
This was a difficult and interesting collection, because it was boring. The clothes were drab, simply cut, boxy, the previous factors emphasised by that graphic stitching delineating design features – pockets, plackets, collars and so on. But it was purposefully done. Miuccia Prada intended to bore us, rather than so many fashion designers who actually do.
Backstage Miuccia Prada dubbed the collection “Prada Classics,” talking about pulling away from the flashy and retreating to the mundane. Shall I say Normcore, or will you? Let’s not even go there. Nevertheless, her thinking chimes with something going on in culture, rather than fashion, right now, a pull away from anything overtly “done”.
Prada has done that before. These aren’t just classic garments, they are her classic garments – Mrs Prada has laid claim to them. The general retrospective seventies air, the sludgy colours and the whip-thin leather trims reminded me of her two seismic collections of 1996. Incidentally, those leather trims also cropped up in her winter womenswear collection, albeit to very different effect. Then again, so did that off palette or dark tones.
This collection was a Prada abnormality in that it wasn’t quite the usual shock to the system, building as it seemed to on her previous two collections. There was even the same teaming of men and women in the show – this time showcasing her pre-spring 2015 collection.
The womenswear was resolutely unremarkable also. The daywear looked like Meryl Streep’s costumes from Kramer Vs Kramer; the evening clothing resembled prom dresses from Carrie.
There’s something exciting about being bored, right now. There’s something interesting about uninteresting clothes, especially when presented with such pomp and circumstance. It felt like an elevation of the everyday, turning a mirror back and reflecting a warped vision of reality. Because Prada’s boring wasn’t really boring.
AMO said the same about the water-world set: “redefining the existing elements, changing proportions, reflecting unexpected points of view”. They were talking pools, but they could have been taking Prada. That kind of stuff is easy to do with gimmicky, over designed garments. It’s difficult to do in a boring brown suit.Tagged in: Milan Fashion Week, Prada, pre-spring 2015, Rem Koolhaas, spring/summer 2015
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