“Pleasure is our business,” declared Sigue Sigue Sputnik, or rather The Sputnik Corporation, for one of their fake ads on the debut album, Flaunt It (1986). The album was also interspersed with real ads for, among others, i-D magazine (“Once considered the most pretentious magazine in the world, now merely the best”) and St-St-Studio Line by Loréal (“Fixing gel, strong hold, be bold. Create your look”). This is what could be heard interspersed with some of Talking Heads’ greatest songs (“Once in a Lifetime,” “Memories Can’t Wait,” “Burning Down the House”…) as the cacophonous soundtrack for today’s terrific Miu Miu show, and it all added to the cheeky, sensory, consumerist overload of Miuccia Prada’s latest collection.
If that soundtrack sounds a little arch and postmodern, well, it was; it was also fantastic and fun, as was the latest Miu Miu offering. It provided clues to that little bit of disconcerting intent in this collection. As is often the case in Pradaland, there is always a drop of poison with the sugar-candy consumer desirability of this clothing—and that is what makes it all the more addictive, of course.
Today Prada decided to revel in fabricating the absolute fake—something better than the real thing. This wasn’t just a collection of animal prints and patterns, rich, dense, and delightful in plastic croco skirts and shifts, embossed artificial leopard print—all built in that old-fashioned, layered, ’50s way of fabrication—with thick tweed houndstooth-check coats and perverse backless pinafore dresses with big, white cartoon buttons. No, this collection also featured acres of real python in permutations so artificial in hue they looked plastic: You can have any color you like as long as it isn’t natural.
“Instinct? I like that word,” said Miuccia Prada after her show. For indeed, like all great designers, she is led by her instincts, and these were animal ones on display today. “I wanted to put things together in a naive way, not caring, always wrong, with that attitude of instinct. It started with the mutation of ostrich in Prada, the genetic modification, the idea of a new species.”
Eras were conflated—’50s-’60s-’70s-’80s-’90s-now—but it was a particular insane view of some sort of ’80s New Wave that came roaring through. Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth might have been in a kind of crazed conversation with Lady Di in a valance yoked blouse, oversize flower jewelry, and globs of glitter and patent shoes. In anybody else’s hands this could have been a great, big mess, but in Prada’s it was postmodern perfection.
While postmodernism now seems rather a nostalgic concept, as Miuccia Prada proves, it is actually more relevant than ever. Except it has mutated and become even more so, even more post, because brands like Prada have embraced this worldview and unashamedly and knowingly run with it, making hyperreality the only reality. Today’s collection reveled in the postmodern, the hyperreal, and became the post-pop. And yet, as always in the fashion industry, in fakery there is honesty. Pleasure is our business, indeed—ultimately it is Miuccia Prada’s.
Jo-Ann Furniss, via style.com