Prada, fashion as politics by other means

Though this Thursday evening’s Prada catwalk show was ultimately about selling clothes, it also managed to be telling political statement. At a moment when politics is central to most conversations in Italy with a new government adamantly closing its borders to refugees, this collection was a clear political statement as much as an aesthetic declaration.


Prada Womenswear Spring/Summer 2019 - Milan - Photo: PixelFormula
 
Miuccia Prada’s tactic was clear, taking classic bourgeois references and subverting them with unlikely patterns, fabrics, imagery and prints.

Fusing tie-dye and psychedelic prints with pictures of the countryside and images of naked men and women on rather proper coats, dresses or tennis skirts. Breaking up all the clichés of a conservative wardrobe.
 
The designer did include lots of signature shiny nylon, though once again subverted by their colors – sherbet, lime or cooper – and paired with satin shorts and athletic Grecian elastic sandals. One quarter of her cast wore insect-shaped shades though ringed with plastic petals; others had their heads topped with faux Agrippina Roman aristocratic hairbands. Miuccia also showed mini corset tops in a rope print worn most spectacularly by Kaia Gerber. Most looks were anchored by see-through nylon knee socks with big triangular Prada logos. Though, the most dashing ideas were the sexy cocktails in giant sequins, jangling as the cast swept around a large hangar completed by giant 10-row bleachers inside the Fondazione Prada.
 
“The whole idea was to discuss what is happening in the world today. The desire for freedom and liberation and even fantasy, facing on the other side extreme conservatism. I wanted to try to represent the clash between these two opposing ideas. That is our reality here today,” said Prada, standing inside her Fondazione, which tomorrow opens a series of exhibitions and debates; notably The Black Image Corporation by Theaster Gates, who will debate Spike Lee on Friday evening, the latest politico-cultural engagement by Prada. Its last major exhibition was dedicated to art during the Fascist era in Italy.
 
Until a half-decade ago, one very rarely saw a black model in a Prada show, this cast however was multi-racial.
 
“What worries me today is simplification. Even politics is run by slogans. Or even hashtags. If you simplify and simplify you can say anything. So that’s my point – the fight between these two sides,” added Prada, cautioning that her customer did not want to embrace too much fantasy and craziness.
 
“It’s an experiment, a moment to inaugurate this new season with Spike Lee in a public discussion. One has to introduce life into the Fondazione. Dance, music or whatever we need. Art is not enough of an expression,” she concluded.
   

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