Prada once again shreds what we think is elegant
You’d have to give it to Miuccia Prada for shifting the conversation to the skirt. Again. Now that even men wear them, what more issues can we skirt—actually, encircle—without sounding like we’re raising more social/political/gender questions in what’s essentially an ever shape-shifting sphere that is fashion? Ms Prada is known as an “intellectual” and that she was reported to have said that women can be “strong and feminine at the same time” does not mean there is an urgent need to read, once again, a message of empowerment into the clothes, especially the skirts. By now, women are able to wear whatever they want, skirts too, regardless of the shape or the amount of fabric that goes into their making.
The focus on skirts this season appears, to us, as additional emphasis to an already impressive body of skirt designs, and less about the power—now surely an antiquated obsession—a wearer can yield in them. Ms Prada had already impressively stated her case, as seen in the 2004/05 travelling exhibition Waist Down, a display that Cathy Horyn had described as “not burdened by self-reference or gloat”. Ms Prada has never shied away from skirts as an old-fashioned garment or something women should be emancipated from to assert their modern femininity. In fact, she practices what she preaches, faithfully showing skirts, which she told The New York Times to be ”my T-shirt”, and mostly appearing in them at the end of the Prada show, which, she, conversely, does not this time.
But what else can she do to skirts that she has not already? Look to what cafes used to put up at entrances in place of the air curtain? Or the car wash, hence the name of the skirt that is supposed to be inspired by those plastic, panelled dividers? While watchful individuals may think this introduction a little belated for Prada since “The Car Wash Skirt Is The Fall Trend You Never Knew You Needed”, declared Huntington Post (and other media outlets) in 2015, Ms Prada, as we know, does not succumb to trends or designs to meet anyone’s expectations. Or, desires. A car wash skirt may be nice to look at but do you really desire one? What if the panels are decorated, with sequins and beads?
The swing of the skirts bring to mind those worn in the ’20s. And although they would show considerable skin at some point of wearing, Ms Prada is somehow able to make them prim. And, that tired word associated with the house, lady-like. Or, probably for some, executive. If car wash panels are not your thing, how about fringing? Surely those are sexy? Actually, not. Prada and sexy are like chalk and cheese: they just don’t mix, not when you team it with a belted, slightly oversized blazer (belatedly). Other than those with parallel panels and strings, there are skirts that are draped at one side, of maxi length, and that are sheer so as to show whatever one wishes to reveal beneath (not necessarily underpants).
A Prada collection isn’t quite the same without the eff-what-you-may-think quirkiness. Even a diaphanous tank dress is off-beat rather than suggestive. Or, a knit jumper with fringing in the front, across the bust, is teasing rather than proper. How the clothes all come together is refreshing, too: one cropped shell top, fringed at the neckline and shoulders, and hem, goes over a sleeveless shirt and a tie (yes, the neck wear many men are abandoning except Donald Trump) and them teamed with a car wash skirt. Or, pyjamas—what we know here to be samfus—with Prada’s graphic, skyward facing flowers. Or, Interesting arm-revealing layering is achieved by pairing a conventional vest over a near-capped-sleeve blouse.
Some members of the media call Prada’s looks “power glam”. Prada, in their PR material, describe them as “surreal glamour”, which, by their own admission, “mirror the pluralism and complexity of female identities.” That sounds to us like ideas the guys won’t get. Try showing the “surreal” to a guy! Not that appealing to men has been the mission of Prada’s blending of so many elements that encourage not the male gaze. In fact, Prada may be considered the earliest man-repelling label. It is hard to imagine women wearing the blazer version of the puffer to a hot date. Again, therein lies the appeal of the brand: geeky and goofy can be in the aesthetical equation. And those irresistible, feminine skirts.