In the recently opened Rem Koolhaas-designed extension at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, one rainy February night, Miuccia Prada unveiled her Fall 2018 womenswear show. Neon signs of Prada classics lit up the mostly dark show space. What did she have in store?
Something to sink our teeth into for starters. No, not the often questionably tasting hors d’oeuvres that Mrs. Prada’s preferred catering company produces. A fashion show with substance—those are alarmingly few and far between nowadays.
I’ve had a bone to pick with Prada recently. Similar undercurrents were present in this womenswear outing too. The clothes of late have pandered to the unending desire to sell, or in this company’s case, to recover. Ailing profits are being resuscitated with the reintroduction of Prada signatures. Nylon. Prada Sport. The men’s show in January was dominated by those two tenets of Prada history. The Fall womenswear recalled the neon hues from and those softly curved shoulders from 2011. The accessories were reissues of other archival successes. Contextualised for 2018, they were marked with a freeing spirit, one with an intent on a kitschy humour.
Having shed the bonnie romanticism of previous years—romanticism no longer, femininity is something she will never trade—this frostier Prada rendition is akin to the modern woman’s portrayal in the news, post-#MeToo. This being the darkest turn, the lofty layer she’s developed had finally come full circle, following November’s reports of sexual misconduct allegation and the subsequent claims in the months after.
The models marched with a sense of urgency. Amongst them were Amber Valetta and Sasha Pivovarova, veritably venerated veterans, and newcomers Kaia Gerber and Anok Yai—women of various descriptions. Their clothes were marked with a practicality necessary to navigate daily lives. Swishy dresses and cropped trousers allocated for free movement; fabrics were chosen interestingly, nylon to reflect and plastic to counter rainwater. Coats were cut generously.
The colours used: flashy neons reminiscent of traffic lights. Familiar patterns of the urban landscape, alight and abuzz with evening commuters journeying home, appeared on dresses and jackets, as glowing loads on the road. They were rendered more simply in block colours, contrasted against sober greys, taupes and blacks. (Some of them however—with bucket hats and ponchos—were a stick away from being one of the crossing guards that guide children after school.)
Mrs. Prada is notably an ardent feminist and rarely shies away from stating her views. This season “it’s for the strength of women going out in violence. My dream is for women to be able to go out in the street and not be afraid.” These were Mrs. Prada’s nocturnal animals. Bold, fearless and lionhearted. It makes romance look so outdated.