The woman who gave the world “ugly chic” and made her fortune with tough black nylon, has discovered that all women really want is to be soft and pretty.
So last night (Tuesday) in Milan, Miuccia Prada, the “high priestess” of Italian fashion, bowed to evolutionary change and offered a new vision which was all about an imaginary, natural beauty.
Her collection for spring/summer 2008 was like a flower fairy fantasy for grown-ups, inspired by the erotic Art Nouveau movement of the turn of the 19th century.
A dress appeared emblazoned with the voluptuous petals of an orchid; or was it a Venus Fly-Trap; entwined leaves and branches suggested ivy – or were they snakes; anything was possible in this verdant wonderland.
Everything rippled and flowed, as sinuous as the curves of a woman’s body, from the exotic printed silk tunics, dresses and trousers to the elaborate, hand-carved-and-hand-painted “flower” heels on the multi-colored shoes.
Colors were as vivid and intense as a “Garden of Eden” – woodland greens, soft pinks, shades of citrus and crimsons as rich as painted lips – and the flowers and foliage of the prints which decorated the clothes just as decadently depicted.
Dress featured puffed sleeves, a tracery of ruffles at the shoulder, a curvaceous cut-out delineating the neck. Trousers were loose and languid to the ankle, or blossomed into a flounce at the knee. Little knits were worn with skirts which were like clouds of exquisite fabric, floating along the catwalk.
Sheer silk and a new knitted silk-organza mixed semi-transparency and transparency, giving the clothes a fluidity, unusual in a Prada collection.
The look of the models, too, was a first for Prada. With tousled hair caught in loose pre-Raphaelite chignons and shadowed with metallic red and gold, they had an ethereal, fey beauty which matched the clothes.
“This is the first time I have gone soft,” the designer said backstage. “There is nothing straight in this collection– like nature. Before, I wanted to show women as tough and powerful, so I used thick fabrics, with dignity. Shapes were vertical to represent strength. But I discovered women like soft, they like pretty. It was hard for me, because if you use soft fabrics and cut on the bias it is boring, all it does is show the body. So I did a new soft with experimental prints and fabrics.”