Petri-dish debutantes: In Milan, Miuccia Prada breeds a new mutant femininity for autumn/winter 2015

The bastard children of this collection will be everywhere next season, and as the images trickle out across the internet, they’re probably gestating already

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Indy Lifestyle Online

“Genetically modified.” Those were the two, odd, words that Miuccia Prada used to describe the jersey material that was the key building block of her autumn/winter 2015 show, the closing act on the second day of the Milanese collections.

Thick and spongy, the stuff was halfway between a slab of Spam and a slice of Battenberg cake – or, as Ms Prada more poetically put it, “halfway between fake and real”

The notion of a face-off between simulacra and original always has resonance in fashion – think of the ongoing, debates over retouched imagery, the crack-downs on designer counterfeiting, or indeed the number of designers taking “inspiration” from others.

This time, however, Miuccia Prada wasn’t taking a sly swipe at her competitors, many of whom reference Prada so closely they could be accused of counterfeit. Instead, it seemed to be the construction of femininity she was interested in – the reality and the falsity of our female image. That fake-real fabric was, she said, the passion of her show, with its flat, unreal sheen of colour in Ladurée macaroon shades of raspberry and pistachio. Some were printed or embroidered to resemble beefy tweeds. Fur was dyed unreal hues of blue or pink, the real made fake.

But back to that feminine construct. “I was thinking of what women like,” said Ms Prada. “The colour, the bows… a beauty.” And this collection did have a strange beauty, with it’s Plexiglass floral brooches and fat, embroidered bows, like scrambled symbols of femininity assembled into an alien collage where, say, a tweedy Miss Marple suit butted heads with a debutante evening gown

 

With their chignons and opera-length gloves, the models resembled Fifties feminine archetypes, Stepford housewives grown in petri-dishes. As is so often the case with the genetically modified – and as is always the case with Prada – something abnormal crept into the gene pool. This was a mutated femininity.

That skewed sense of normality is what women come to Prada for. “I hope there was the irony,” smiled Ms Prada. There was – there was also, inescapably, a Prada chromosome in all these clothes.

Fake-reality is fundamentally Prada – a designer who loves leatherette like perhaps no other – as was sci-fi retro-futurism, the clanging embellishment, those sickly shades and the corrugated, vacuum-packed shoes. Prada scrambled genomes of its iconography, playing with them as readily as those of the female wardrobe.

The label has done that before, of course – in January, most recently, for a collection that mixed men’s and women’s, mostly in the label’s signature scratchy black nylon.

Ms Prada was wearing a jacket from that show backstage, where she unofficially dubbed this show, “variations on beauty”. But it was about pure variations on the Prada gene, too. And, in Italy, Prada is always the dominant fashion strain.

The bastard children of this collection will be everywhere next season. As the images trickle out across the internet, they’re probably gestating already.

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