Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everyone Loves A Challenge

I love -- no, adore -- Miuccia Prada as a designer. She's consistently in my Ideal Wardrobe Top Five. But I have to tell you, I'm not sure I ever want to have dinner with her. Not because I don't think she's a nice person, I have no reason to believe she's not; but because I'm pretty sure she's really much, much smarter than me. Too much smarter than me. I'm afraid our conversation would consist of her expounding on politics, economics, and art (the woman has a PhD in political science, for god's sake, and she and her husband are going to be opening a museum in Milan solely for the purpose of displaying their contemporary art collection) while I gazed at her like a lovesick teenager and occasionally piped up with inanities like, "Oh, Ms. Prada. I love your clothes so much!"

I do love her clothes so much, although sometimes, I'll admit, they're challenging. That's why I like 'em. This collection, as far as I could tell, might have been titled "Fall '09: Mad Max Visits the English Countryside by Way of the Coliseum."

Yeah. I know.

So, this was not my favorite look of the collection. I really don't think there's going to be much of a market for the upscale Italian leather fishing wader. (Although stranger things have happened.) There seems to be something being said here about returning to basics, and classic pieces of clothing, and the natural world... but I'm not sure what.

The collections started with a series of slightly oversized basics in a very heavy, stiff-looking blanket wool.

I liked these a lot; they were just a little twisted with some interesting seaming and that cool overlapping side seam

This silhouette, with a sort of thirties draped bodice of velvet that I really liked, made an appearance

and then the velvet morphed into some devoré pieces that are just stunning

She played with that dress shape in several different ways

I'm afraid I'm not down with the fur dress. Besides being impractical (seriously, if it's cold enough for a fur dress, girlfriend is going to need a much higher decolletage), it's just not... attractive.

This neckline is one of the few times we small-busted gals have it over on the curvy ones. You can't have much of a chest and wear a dress cut like that without looking extremely tarty. Sometimes it's good to be a member of the IBTC. (I wonder if the vee will come higher once they go into production, or if they'll leave it like that. Sadly, I predict a lot of women who shouldn't wear it would anyway, so who knows. It might actually be a selling point for some ladies who have added to their natural blessings by visiting the plastic surgeon's office -- a great way to show off your investment.)

The sequins & appliqués are stunning, and I was simultaneously confused and fascinated by the leather-strip skirts.

There's something very Roman Centurian about those dresses that turns me off, but the detail and workmanship

are dazzling. And there is something about the prim toughness of them I find very alluring. I think "prim toughness" is a good desription of this collection -- a weird sort of tea party barbarity. Is this what Miuccia is trying to tell us: "Be nice, but be ready to throw down"? According to, Prada wanted the collection to be about the outdoors, but also wanted to do a lot of suits and coats. And, as Miuccia herself has pointed out many times in her career, sometimes it's best not to think about it too much. Sometimes she just has an idea and runs with it -- playing with shapes & volumes & fabrics.

The leathers were gorgeous

and the fabrics were really wonderful

And how about this lovely thing

which I'm completely in love with.

Besides the wacky waders

there were some other interesting shoes

and also some really interesting shoes

I am tired of this conceit of the lug-soled dress shoe. I've never liked it -- I find it as forced as the high-heeled sneaker, and almost as ugly. As for the mohawk shoe, well... it's certainly editorial. You're going to see them in a lot of magazines, but I'm afraid I don't think they're going to fly off the shelves. They're going to cost a mint and they are not the sort of all-purpose shoe that's going to last for years that most women want to spend a mint on right now. Glorious, yes. Practical? Not so much. And I sure hope that leather is very, very soft and those studs are very very smooth because if you're anything like ankle-kicking me you'd cut your legs to ribbons with them otherwise.

Bags are always the steam behind the engine at Prada, and there were some very good ones

Those leather totes won't just be good for a few more seasons -- they're the kind of bags you can carry for the rest of your life. And while I find the little fur clutches kind of adorable,


I could do without the giant fur bag. I dunno. It's just a big hunk of... fur. Meh.

On the whole I think it's
a great collection. It's a wee bit indigestible in places, but it certainly tickles my gray matter, and there's actually quite a bit in it I found very wearable. I don't think it's going to sell as well as some of Prada's previous work, or as some other designers this season. These clothes are not as obvious a response to the economic climate we're suffering through as Marc Jacobs' exuberant time traveling escape back to the nightclubs of 1980's New York, or the several-season bang-for-your-buck sleek basics of Michael Kors. Miuccia Prada, I suspect, is not that linear a thinker, and is a much more subtle designer. But I really liked these clothes, even the ones I didn't like, for simultaneously evoking the discomfort most of us are feeling these days and suggesting a balm for it.


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WendyB said...

I always love Prada accessories but have never found the clothes very flattering.

dana said...

I looked at the beading on those leather fringe dresses and thought, "Christmas lights." But I would wear that grey suit with the appliques (?) in a heartbeat. And the lug sole dress shoe was so over, like, in 1999.

Duchesse said...

That first photo made me go "whhhuuh?" when I saw it in the NY Times. So ugly. Some of these pieces must be 'runway only', no? The local Prada has some gorgeous crinkled-fabric dresses in the window, like rumpled organdy- completely charming and wearable.

Anonymous said...

Well. I like the bags.

Why must the models look like zombies? It's very distracting.

Karen G.

Sian said...

But the models... Every single one of them looks as though she should be admitted to hospital. For something.

sarahn said...

These girls' bony chests are making me ill. Is it too much to ask to see clothes filled out with a real person's body? That dress just... hangs there. The brown bag is gorgeous, though.

Denise said...

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I learn something every time I read it, and I laugh twice as much as that! Looking at and evaluating collections is new to me, and I really like your thoughtful takes on them. Keep it up! Love!

P.S. I also love your playlist.

I, Goddess said...

I saw the brown gladiator dress on Miuccia, I think it was on, at some red carpet event and it just looked plain weird. Or to put it more bluntly, ugly and unflattering. Even the designer couldn't make it look good.
But everytime I go into Nordstroms, I drool over the Prada shoes and purses.

StyleSpy said...

Wendy -- Oh, pshaw. Miuccia is not interested in anything so pedestrian as "flattering." Much too lofty. (Although the Linea Rosso often has really great basics.)

Dana -- Yes, gray suit, yes!!

Duchesse -- I don't know how much Prada runway stuff actually gets into production, since I don't have easy access to a Prada boutique and my local Neimans tends to be pretty conservative. And yes, the spring collection with the crinkled silks is wonderful -- airy & easy & surprisingly feminine without being fussy.

Karen -- ironically, I think the reason for the 1000-yard stare on the models is so that they don't distract from the clothes. I think it's supposed to be very neutral. Not working, obviously.

Sian -- part of the problem is that Pat McGrath designed a makeup for the show that featured reddish/burgundy shadow around the eyes, which made them look especially hollowed & bruised.

Sarah -- As someone with a very thin chest, I can assure you I have a "real" body, I just don't have much in the way of a bustline, which can be as big a handicap in fitting clothes as too much chest or backside, believe me. If we ever meet in person, I'll spare you the sight of my sternum. ;-)

Denise -- thank you so much for your kind words!

Goddess -- the other great thing about Prada shoes is that they seem to be cut on a wider last than many designer shoes. I have trouble with Loubies & even Manolos, but Prada & Miu Miu always fit me brilliantly.

Belle de Ville said...

Cerebral yes, wearable not really.
It's a very interesting collection with a "don't fuck with me" urban edge...perfect for times.
BTW, your fashion writing is as good as or better than anything I read in the print media.

Anonymous said...

I have never wowed over Prada, it is so pencil in hair if you get what I a mean. It can make S & M look tame and it does so here. still I care not into the whys. I just stay far from them. As always the use of leather in large amounts intrigued me unil now. Sad ..Katie

Plumcake said...

As I said, I really liked this whole collection because it was SO Wartime England, and Lord knows there's nothing I love more than Wartime England. The shoes were a let down, but honestly, I'm okay with finally NOT liking a Prada shoe (and so is my Neiman's card)

And if I may teeter on this soap box for a moment: if you have a body and most of the parts are parts you grew yourself, then it's real. Yes, I'd like to see more variety in body shapes and sizes (and ethnicities and and and) on the runway, but it's no less wrong to judge and single out a very skinny woman than it is to do the same thing to a fat woman. And the whole idea of a "real woman" looking one way or another (or even being born a woman, come to that) is limiting at best and misogynistic (not to mention entirely tiresome) at worst.