Pale green and pale pink drinks, pale green and pale pink canapés, pale green and pale pink walls…you got the memo before the first look hit the catwalk. After a men’s show that was black as black, Prada went pastel for Fall. “Sweet…,” said Miuccia, “but violent. I wanted impact. How can you be strong with pastels?” The answer was to drench them in irony.
She had a couple of working titles for her new collection. “Softer pop” was self-explanatory, a riff on the color palette. But “variation on beauty” touched on a longtime fascination of Miuccia’s: the relationship between the real and the fake. Is beauty created by genetic modification or surgical intervention any less “real” than natural beauty? This show set out to address that issue from both ends of the spectrum. Some of the most appealing items in the collection were cut from ostrich, but equally, a molecular print that harked back to Prada’s good-/bad-taste glory days was actually an image of genetically modified ostrich. Tweeds came woven and printed. Music from Walt Disney’s Fantasia played, as a reminder that images of extreme beauty can spring from absolute artifice. In fact, there was something a bit cartoonish about the pieces cut from a hyper-smooth, spongy sci-fi fabric that most of us took for neoprene. It was actually a double-faced jersey. “I could do things with that fabric I couldn’t do with another fabric,” Miuccia enthused.
One thing she could definitely do was challenge convention in the sly, subversive way that has always been one of the most forceful arguments for Prada’s influence. The influence may have waned a little of late—sales have been off—but this show unfolded with the growing sensation that Miuccia was playing once more to her strengths, especially her ability to evoke, then upend, the familiar. What first made her famous, in other words. Opera gloves and fur stoles, brooches and bows, ponytails and kitten heels, Empire lines and pantsuits painted a picture of a Nixon-era debutante. The fact that the stole was abstracted into an attached strip of fur, or the brooches were cut from Perspex, or the gloves were all colors of leather, or the dresses and suits were molded from that peculiar fabric all added up to Prada’s Factor X, the acid Miuccia added to her pastel punch. We tripped.
Tim Blanks, via style.com