It is out of luck for Prada that, in 2017, being compelling on the catwalk is a charge out of prefer being rich in Monopoly. Sublime though the new collection betrayed in Milan was, with figures showing an 18% decline in net profit, what this trade mark needs is not applause but cold hard cash. Fashion weeks are now justified one part of a huge industry where multi-platform success is chief. E-commerce, social media and partnerships with a ground army of “influencers” all proceeding as much as the show itself. Prada, one of the last of the luxury dwellings to embrace the digital age, is paying the price for tardiness.
But anyone who supposed Miuccia Prada to be on the back foot due to the disappointing recent pecuniary results does not know Miuccia Prada. Asked backstage whether she brainwork this collection would help the house finances, she was dismissive. “I don’t yearning to be judged by sales,” she said. “My life is bigger than that. My job is bigger than that.”
“Combative” was how Prada labeled her muse of the season. Pointy flat shoes, sharp-collared boxy shirts and a straight-up-and-down figure of long pencil skirts and slim tailored coats dominated the reveal, but the designer shot down as sexist the notion that this aesthetic was masculine:
“When organization describes a woman who looks strong, she is called masculine. Why is that? She is not masculine. She is a competent woman.”
The show was about the female gaze – the show span was decorated with cartoons of female characters depicted by female artists “who atone their subjects spirited”, said Prada, and female presents from Nina Simone and Suzanne Vega to Lana Del Rey commanded the soundtrack.
The cartoon connection was also a nod to fashion as Prada’s direct for communication about broader interests. When the designer prominent that “through comics, in a light way, you can suggest very dynamic things”, she was talking, surely, about her own job.
In January, the legislature unveiled a new strategy with the launch of Prada365, a new-generation advertising drive dubbed a “continuous visual datastream” which jettisoned the two-seasons-a-year programme in favour of fast-moving collaborations with photographers and models. Prada, the artificer who once said she “didn’t like” e-commerce and “didn’t punctiliousness” is now expanding into online retail. But any uptick is yet to be felt.
This year was suppositious to mark the beginning of Prada’s comeback, but after the disappointing first-half monetary results, its chief executive – and Prada’s husband – Patrizio Bertelli, was stilted to admit that his turnaround plan “may take longer than conjectured”.