Prada Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Miuccia Prada has been stricken with a discernable strain of sweetness this season. Her latest outing for Prada was laden in 1950s nostalgia and tongue-in-cheek housewifeyness, but not without its equal plays with the subversive. It is Prada after all. The attendees in the midsection of the runway were seated on toy hot rods that doubled as seats. Grease Lighting wasn’t the primer here. It’s a matter that hits a lot closer to home for Prada, for what is more totemic to the Italian identity than a hot car and a hot woman?

Cartoonish illustrations of hot rods came emblazoned and appliqued on tight leather and flowy chiffon pleated skirts, even embellished on the backs of gang jackets amidst a pool of jewels. The pleated skirts will undoubtedly be the fore-running pieces to be picked up from this collection, and if not those, then those skimpy, slightly ruched tops will suffice for sure. Some of the same flower embroideries from the resort collection adorned almost everything, especially memorable in the double wool dust coats, while that same explosion of doodles for her men’s collection, golf-themed in their case, decorated dresses, outerwear pieces and other implicit alter tops with playful car drawings.

The graphic nature of the flame prints on a number of pieces rang a bit too hokey, but for all their pomp, they worked to unanimous delight in those incendiary heels, which are bound to be, hands down, the shoe of the season. When she’s not meeting the gals at the ice cream parlor in her delicate chiffon separates, or cheering for her boyfriend in a fitted leather tube skirt as he duels in a game of Chicken, this season’s Prada girl can be found sunbathing at the community pool in her embellished one-piece bathing suit.

If the show suffered from anything, it was from a comparison with the two exceptional prior collections. Side by side, this one just doesn’t measure up. But sometimes, fashion is also about a special moment, and this one, on a personal level, had two. The first came with the third look out – donned by none other than Guinevere Van Seenus, only my favorite model of all time. The second involved watching Lindsey Wixson stride down the asphalt-tinted runway and suddenly flash an out-of-nowhere smile before turning the corner. That kind of gesture tends to spare itself and when it happens, it’s magic. In one moment, Prada’s case for sweetness suddenly made itself completely, perfectly, beautifully clear.