It’s typical for high fashion designers to create up to six collections a year. It’s a brutal, fleeting churn. Clothes without a narrative are nothing more than dull garments. With the right story though, clothes bloom into a collection.
Even though fashion houses have been spinning yarns — what a dreadful, irresistible pun! — for centuries, we lap these stories up like the guilty, fetishised pleasures they are. Because what follows fetishism is usually worship, and Prada understands this.
The house isn’t shy about taking creative liberties. From withdrawing offensive trinkets to breaking female comic book artists, the house responds tactically to zeitgeist conversations. Its sublime performance on the runway is often accompanied by head-scratchers. Head-scratchers like, why did women’s wear feature in the Men’s Fall/Winter 2019 show in Milan? Was the men’s collection alone unable to prop the collective interest?
The unlikely emblem of the show was a cartoonish Frankenstein, the fictional character of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel. The creature’s head and screwed-wounded fists ran amok on bright tops, while a blur of lighting bolts zapped and fried other tops. Triple belting and marabou trimmed hats were featured heavily on both boys and girls. Like Victor Frankenstein’s unorthodox experiment, the pieces came together tumultuously sometimes.
With the camp horror influence, you half expected to see Werewolf, Bigfoot, or that Giant Squid from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, but the show didn’t tip that way as Halloween was clearly over. The aesthete in Miuccia Prada regained control though, and her class pulled through.
Boxy men’s silhouettes appeared alongside strapped and fitted women’s off-shoulder dresses — a classic Prada touch. Backpacks were also strapped high on backs, to frame attentive postures. It was minimalist, quaint and wonderfully flawed at the same time. Like Mary Shelley’s creation, the collection was a mixed bag of parts culled from a loose string of ideas. Conceptually, it made the Internet moan, but if this isn’t a sign that fashion is obsessively fluid, what is?
Felt hearts, attached by large safety pins, were also a recurring theme. There was a catchy bleakness and dark humour to the Fondazione Prada Complex. It was as though Prada found delightfully trashy, horror comic books in the basement and decided it’s time to be inclusive of middle-class teenage memory.
Asked by Numéro last month for the best way to consume art, Miuccia Prada — who received the Outstanding Achievement Award at The Fashion Awards 2018 — replied: “Rapidly. What counts is the first impression. It’s also my approach in my work. I’ve learnt to stay alert and trust my instincts. There are advantages and disadvantages in that of course.” Pearls of wisdom indeed, from the constant creator.
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