#SuzyMFW: Prada’s Fight For Women
“The show is a bit militant – I don’t think that women have achieved enough yet by far,” said Miuccia Prada standing against a wall of giant heads with faces that were aggressive, wistful, angry or sad.
”It’s about women cartoonists since the Thirties, when women stared to work with such fun, spirit and intelligence,” said the designer.
So even before a model in a tailored shiny raincoat, or a striped mannish shirt decked out with a pretty pink Japanese bow, had put a metal-studded sneaker on the runway, there were the faces. They were such bold floor-to-ceiling images that they dwarfed the models, physically suggesting what the designer was saying: there was a long way to grow before reaching the heights of womanhood.
Some of the clothes expressed this in a graphic way by literally taking the cartoons and printing pages of images on strictly tailored coats. The figures, constricted in the squares, faced-off the vast females on the walls.
The show itself was quintessentially Prada, with tailoring to the fore, although this was a spring/summer 2018 collection. The sensibility was urgent and urban with strict coats or jackets. Even a pleated dress came out with a floral Japanese surface with a striped shirt with a stiff collar underneath.
Then there were the rolled up sleeves on most of the tailored pieces, surely signifying that women mean business and that there is still so much work to be done.
Heartfelt as is the commitment to, and support of, women, ‘Mrs Prada’ (as she is always known) has walked this path many times before. A decade ago when she was standing up as a designer for modern women in a consumer crazed world, her clothes seemed, as ever, revolutionary among flimsy sexed-up garments oozing vulgarity. Prada collections were greeted with excitement and joy, whether the clothes were ergonomic and practical, bourgeois with a twist, or a jolting surprise.
But now, post the arrival of bold-shouldered, low-brow, high-price Vetements, and the rediscovery, via the Kardashians, of a fashionable backside, the Prada high-brow female aesthetic (at a price) might need to re-position itself.
Not that there weren’t clothes to make women feel cool and modern – like a tweedy coat with strips of a white base coming through the dark fabric, or another with animal patterned lapels. Prada was strong on all its tailoring, with the leopard print giving an edge to the girly looks.
Yet there is something in the air today – and not just climate change – that makes it increasingly difficult to position luxury clothes with what is happening in the wider world.
Prada has so much to offer – not least the magnificent Fondazione Prada art space on the edge of Milan. Its modern and original artists on view include Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s ”Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible),” a virtual reality installation shown first at the Cannes festival.
Just the attention given to the current female cartoonists in the show could change their lives.
Let’s hope that the militant energy of Miuccia Prada can be a force for good in the fashion and wider world.