That strange sensation in the pit of your stomach before a Prada show is very natural. It’s called anticipation. Every spring and fall, for at least 8 minutes, the fashion world comes to a halt and pays attention to what Prada and crew have to deliver. ‘Expect the unexpected’ has become the resounding mantra amongst editors and spectators at large. This summer’s celebrated Met exhibit, ‘Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations’, made even the curious museum-goers feel like Prada aficionados – those stated tenets of ‘Ugly Chic’ and ‘Naif Chic’, among others, becoming part of the cultural vernacular, instead of esoteric fashion-talk. Still, when people say that fashion moves fast, they’re talking about Prada. She’s the reigning master of the volte face, this latest collection a perfect example of her addictive polarity. Suffice it to say, there was no Margot Tenanbaum here.
Today, Prada went floral, again, but not even close to the flowers donned by like last spring’s hot-rod addicted pin-up girls. Today’s flowers looked spray painted onto dark tops and skirts through repeated stencils. That motif carries its own subtext, but what about those leather socks in variants of pink, gold and silver worn with towering stacked sandals with little rosette embellishments? The woman will slap a sock on a shoe even if it kills her. It’s one of her charms. The socks alone made everyone sit to attention. Is she serious? Well, she may be having fun with it, but yeah, of course she’s serious. Will those socks even be sold, or were they just runway ornament? Oh, they’ll be sold alright. But those weren’t her trickiest propositions today. The shoes were simply baffling. Models have toppled over on the Prada catwalk on far less intimidating footwear. How the general public will react to the shoes once they hit stores should be interesting, but reason has it that they’ll flounder compared to the equally gimmicky, but ultimately more plausible direction of heels with brake lights.
Still, the strikingly Asian curlicue folds on the sandals, the skewed tabard shapes on dresses, the parade of origami obie pleats that closed the show – Prada was clearly serving Oriental fare, but it was much more involved than ‘Milan Goes Behind the Yellow Curtain’. It was the Tale of Genji written by Harmony Korine. A touch of romance, a touch of subversion. The perfect Prada cocktail. Going back to the flowers, they looked best in the beginning. There was a slight sinister touch to the printing and paneling of those buds, as if plucked right out of a staticky TV screen (Think ‘The Ring’). The more textured incarnations, like the crushed velvet coat on Suvi Koponen, felt too familiar, too ‘been there, done that’ (overall the entire show burst with 90s Prada nostalgia). That iteration was bland. The black and white floral diptych on a hunter green coat, on the other hand, was undeniably fresh, and looked particularly smashing set against the model’s shining gold feet.