Fashion’s premier feminist, Miuccia Prada, timed this coming to form to perfection. In a season when slogans of female empowerment are a catwalk must-have and flick picture show stars have been ripped off moodboards in favour of suffragettes, Prada include come roaring back to life in Milan.
Her recent gleanings have lacked a little urgency, but this one was a punchy hark back that Prada was using fashion as a way of talking about the female sagacity many years before it became fashionable.
The show started with wide corduroy trousers, duffel coats and scarves, but the matches were skewed. Imagine if Comme des Garçons remade Ali MacGraw’s attire in Love Story and you get the picture. Then came pencil skirts in Agatha Christie tweed, surprise dresses in fluffy mohair and beaded cocktail skirts with feather companies. When the show ended, the room erupted in cheering and a chorus of I-want-that-dress (the red blow one, as worn by Lindsey Wixson) followed by a stampede backstage to felicitate Prada.
Miuccia Prada had a lot to say backstage, but there was one anecdote she duplicate twice. “I heard that in America, at the women’s march, an old feminist suggested ‘I can’t believe that 50 years later we are still in the anyway place.’” This was a collection looking at why it is that gender statesmanship finds itself, in 2017, wondering if it has made any progress in the at half-century. Prada decided to leave the slogan T-shirts to others, and as an alternative of addressing the direct political issue, have her say about gender machination through the lens of examining the dynamic between men and women in sex and nonsense.
In seduction, Prada implies, as in politics, it is remarkable how little has changed. “The weapons of seduction are without exception the same. Feathers. Lingerie. When you are an educated feminist, off you reject this, but it is true that these have stopped the same for many, many years. How is it that desire is of necessity linked to these things? Does this mean that seduction is something deep human, or that it is a social structure? This is a serious ask.” Prada, who of all the catwalk superstar designers is the least afraid to ask the devious questions, is back on fighting form just when mode needs her most.