Prada Fall Winter 2018 show was shown in the as yet never-before-seen Torre, a nearly finished tower that will mark the completion of the OMA-designed Fondazione Prada.
If the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to function while holding two opposing ideas in the mind, it makes sense that fashion’s brainiest designer, Miuccia Prada, is so fascinated by the “dualities” concerning the lives of women.
At her show on Thursday night in Milan, Prada spoke of women’s “constant dialogue and struggle” between “what you have to be to be strong and active and protect yourself, and what women inherited – the sweetness, the bows, the femininity”. The question of how to manage this duality, she said, “is the whole problem of my job. And it is something that is not clear yet”.
Prada’s attempts to square that particular circle were especially strong on the catwalk this season. The show began with muted colours – brown nylon, earth-toned checks – and very sensible shoes, some of which looked like a hybrid between wellies and Chelsea boots, others like galoshes.
It crescendoed into a series of dazzling fluoro outfits, including an intricate, fringed evening dress the screaming yellow shade of a hi-vis safety jacket and an outfit that looked like a pack of highlighter pens: neon orange top, neon pink trousers and neon green shoes. The final looks were fluoro, too: a reflective green tunic with a matching bucket hat, followed by another matching hat and tunic combination in neon pink.
Prada said the colours were about freedom: “I imagined that a woman could go out looking super sexy in the street at night without being bothered. It’s about the freedom of women to go out in the night.”
The bright colours complemented the show’s striking venue: a nearly finished eight-storey tower, the final section of the company’s modern art complex, Fondazione Prada, designed by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA architects. Models walked on black lacquered floors while floor-to-ceiling windows offered a very Blade Runner view over nearby graffitied buildings, where large recognisably Prada neon motifs – bananas, a dinosaur, an alien’s face, a high heel, a spider – had been erected.
Despite unwavering critical acclaim, Prada’s financial results have not been rosy. In September, the company’s executive Patrizio Bertelli reported another six months of declining revenues. He said turning around the company’s poor performance – much of which has been blamed on its sluggish entry into the digital sphere – may take longer than expected.
Prada’s counterpart Gucci, on the other hand, has recently enjoyed tremendous financial success, using online promotional tools and carefully chosen price points to appeal to millennials. There were signs at Thursday’s show that Prada had a younger customer in mind too, not least with its resuscitation of the red stripe of the once discontinued Prada Sport label.
The Prada Sport diffusion line was popular on football terraces and at garage nights in the 2000s, and its revival may be a canny attempt to tap into the millennial catnip concept of nostalgia for the recent past, a strategy that is also being explored, with the return of the once-maligned check, at mega-brand Burberry.
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