You know what they say, when you hit rock bottom you can only go upward. In the same way, when you overdo things, the best solution is probably to take a step back and maybe opt for simplicity.
At least that's what Miuccia Prada suggested yesterday afternoon in Milan on her men's (Fall/Winter 2017) and women's (pre-Fall 2017) runway.
There were no huge revelations at the show: Miuccia usually is a silent oracle winding the press up about her obscure inspirations and complex ideas that quite often reveal to be as the coherently incoherent summary of the art installations, exhibitions, performances and films she loves and displays/showcases at the Fondazione Prada, but this time there was an almost banal return to simplicity with a sinister and destabilising twist.
Two main materials prevailed - corduroy and leather in fifty shades of beige and brown. They were employed for suits, trench coats and jackets for both the collections.
Button-down shirts and V-neck sweaters completed the offer, while accessories included suede round-toed shoes anchored with round studs, ponyskin loafers with the occasional bejeweled element, or boots trimmed with tufts of luxurious fur in bright and bold colours or entirely covered in fluffy fur and uncannily resembling Gizmo the Gremlin in its cute phase.
Less informal handbags featured instead arty geometrical motifs forming Cubist portraits à la Picasso in bold contrasting colours.
Raw and basic necklaces were made with twigs, assorted shells, minerals or with large pendants in dubious taste (think tufts of violet fur combined with a large shell and you get the idea).
Some details such as the '70s leather panels around the pockets pointed towards a fashion nightmare straight out of 1979, even though the naïf Giorgio Morandi-inspired bottles and assorted watercolours on sweaters and tops showed Miuccia's art inspirations (even though she claimed the motifs were designed by her team since she wasn't in search for a specific art reference as it happened in previous collections).
The pre-Fall collection was slightly more varied and included patchworked motifs, leather skirts with large furry pockets, plus mohair twinsets in clashing colours and fading floral patterns matched with socks embellished with sequined motifs.
At times the garments on the runway didn't look too coherent: it was almost as if the costumes by Courtney Hoffman for Captain Fantastic had met the crazy jumpers hand-knit by Fiore, Mimi's girlfriend, in Lina Wertmüller's The Seduction of Mimi.
Who knows, maybe Miuccia was channelling them, after all, the former celebrates a return to nature, the latter was about leftist ideals gone wrong in a world that forced even the most radical ones to compromise and shut up, and, before being swallowed by fashion, Miuccia as a young woman was a leftist feminist and a Communist party member.
The set designed by OMA didn't help deciphering the inspiration and the final message, but actually made things a bit more complicated.
It featured indeed benches or beds with leather sheets separated by partitions covered in tiles, formica or marble. Maybe this was a hospital, a motel or a mortuary (by the way, guests were invited to sit upon them...)?
The answer wasn't so clear and it was made more cryptic by the videos posted by Prada on Instagram that featured smashing crockery and fading bedroom scenes with slogans such as "Privacy is a luxury", "Domestic bliss" and "The revolution starts at home".
Normality, simplicity, authenticity, and reality were the keywords to unlock this collection, and, while Miuccia was maybe inviting (those) people (who can afford her designs) to switch back to our normal nature, slowing down to more human rhythms is not an option.
Prada is not doing too well at the moment and, to restore revenues, future plans include a more focused digital strategy that should realign the company with other fashion houses that seem to be doing a bit better thanks to a stronger online presence. It looks like returning to nature for Miuccia is therefore easier said than done.