Miuccia Prada is nothing if not contrary.
So the woman who has sworn sartorial allegiance to the skirt for decades, even though she admits they might on occasion add kilos to her apparent weight, has now traded them in – heartlessly – for trousers. "Who's queen?" she may as well have quipped as she travelled the Costume Institute ball red carpet last week, as footloose and fancy-free as it is possible to imagine in golden tunic and cropped trews.
For the record, she generally favours elaborate skirts and conservative cardigans accessorised with vintage jewellery of exquisite good taste and sometimes – though not always – sensible shoes. In trousers, though, she made the majority of guests, still flaunting their floor-length gowns and accompanying hard-to-handle trains, appear weighed down by their wardrobe by comparison. The designer is being compared to Schiaparelli just now but she has long and openly bowed down at the altar of the greater 20th-century couturier Yves Saint Laurent. It was this huge fashion talent that first sent trousers for women down the haute couture runway.
In 1966, his Le Smoking tuxedo for men adapted to suit the female form was a conscious and very high-profile attempt to relieve women of the frills and furbelows of traditional eveningwear which, to this day, many remain attached to. And I'm with Yves on this one also. While I am more than happy marvelling at the beauty of the workmanship on an overblown skirt for hours on end and also understand the sweet nostalgia such fashion whimsy is infused with, actually wearing one is not something I would generally consider. And nor would Miuccia Prada it seems. This, after all, is a woman who was married in a grey cotton dress and man's overcoat; one can only assume such unabashed sentimentality eludes her. I love it when we agree.
Take nothing for granted, however, as this is a designer who is nothing if not full of surprises. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine the Prada runway replete with floor-grazing frivolous fancies before long. Miuccia Prada has said that she currently finds tailoring more empowering than flou but given the breakneck speed with which she changes her mind one can only presume that won't last.