Somewhere on the far side of an undulating sand dune, where the sound of the sea issued from beyond the plush gold carpet, Miuccia Prada staged her confrontation between the beauty of antiquity and the present’s demand for simplicity.
On the one side, intense brocade pieces that looked as though they had been found in an old attic, their beauty and handwork still more or less intact, except for the fronds of unravelling threads.
On the other side of this struggle between sense and sensibility were severe coats and dresses, their plain shapes traced and retraced with overstitching. They seemed like a fashion version of Arte Povera, while the brocades suggested 19th-century grandeur.
Take Prada’s water or the wine. And you get the same socks with a band of flowers at the calf and a stout-heeled shoe.
But as ever with Prada
— and this show was comprehensively Miuccia in spirit – nothing is as it seems.
“It is the irresistible work of artisans, like making chandeliers,” said Prada backstage, explaining how she had set the best Italian craftspeople to re-work and re-interpret the antique brocades.
Prada’s wrestling to align opposites has been one of her ongoing challenges of the last two decades. The roar of excitement and applause, as she took a surprisingly generous bow, showed how much people respect her and admire her fashion courage.
What was different about this collection was its historic beauty. No more of the ugly aesthetic, yet neither a nostalgia for times past. No more male/female conflicts, for all the clothes were feminine, with no trousers, just a decorative brocade skirt with a simple sweater.
Instead, Miuccia followed her delirious desire to preserve the skills of the past but always and forever remain relevant.