Prada: Torn between romanticism and fear

A dramatic show from Milan’s most political designer at Prada, which juxtaposed militarism with romanticism in the most contemporary fashion display so far this season.


Prada - Womenswear - Fall/Winter 2019-20 - Milan - Photo: Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana
 
With populism on the rise and radically altering government policies throughout Europe, most notably in Britain, France and Italy, the nations that host Europe’s three key fashion weeks, contemporary politics inevitably has begun influencing fashion.
 
At Prada, this was most obviously expressed by a series of several army looks. In black, multi-pocket SWAT team nylon jackets and jerkins, albeit paired with see-through guipure lace skirts – most sensationally on Gigi Hadid. Then, in a khaki series, where the models marched in safari jackets and combat pants. Though once again with a feminine touch, brought by adding turquoise silk shirts and fun furry handbags.
 
Miuccia's opening, however, was pure Prada, bold, black felt wool dresses, cut décolleté and finished with silk scarves or crystal chains and anchored by black Pinball Wizard combat boots. In counterpoint, she showed white cotton shirt dresses finished with blossoming fabric flowers, whose stems dangled off the torso. The clothes managed to be protective yet seductive.
 
The soundtrack mixed in "Someday my Prince will Come" with heavy metal chords from David Lynch’s Wild at Heart
 

Prada - Womenswear - Fall/Winter 2019-20 - Milan - Photo: Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana

"The good and the bad. Romance and fear, the two forces I most feel at the moment. Introducing the good in a world that has so much bad. Though each girl was a vision of a love story," explained Miuccia post show. 
 
Staged inside the Fondazione Prada, the show received enormous applause, as Miuccia took her bow in a cobalt blue silk pantsuit with an athletic jerkin, a look softened by an enormous blue sapphire pendant.
 
"I am afraid of war, any kind around us. The violent situation right now in Europe, in another century we would already be at war. We designers work for rich people, making rich clothes, but somehow fashion is very relevant. So there is a request from the fashion industry to approach political subjects. But that is very problematic, as it is difficult to find a way that is intelligent. For to be superficial in politics through fashion would only be criticized. As fashion is also for light moments and for pleasure," she expounded.
 
In December, the house was buffeted by heavy criticism for the thoroughly thoughtless, monkey-like figures in its Pradamalia line, which many regarded as examples of blackface imagery.
 
After NYC civil rights attorney Chinyere Ezie spotted these half dozen looks by chance in the brand’s Soho store, she realized how similar they were to blackface images she saw in an exhibit inside the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.
 

Prada - Womenswear - Fall/Winter 2019-20 - Milan - Photo: Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana

After intense backlash, Prada pulled them from stores in mid-December, despite insisting that they were "a family of mysterious tiny creatures," explaining in a statement that the "creatures were not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface."
 
Asked about the issue, Signora Prada responded: "I think we all have to learn to be incredibly more sensitive, and aware. That is the least we can do."
 
Her invitation was in pink, her backdrop was canary yellow, and her cast contained more young ladies of color – over a half dozen – than practically any Prada show before.

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