The pleated midi skirt – ubiquitous in modern wardrobes over the past decade – is not going anywhere for autumn/winter, according to Miuccia Prada. Her latest show, in Milan on Thursday, deconstructed the trend, however, with a selection of swishy, leg-bearing calf length skirts fashioned from silken tassels and chunky strips of fabric.
“Basically the pleated skirt became fringing,” the designer said after her show, “because I wanted to use fringe as a symbol.”
It was a cracking collection which came with a clear narrative about women and power. Those skirts were combined with severe grey suit jackets, shirts and ties – business at the top, cocktail hour at the bottom.
Towards the end of the show the office-appropriate pieces, in grey, camel and black, were remade in tulle or embellished with crystals. Vivid coloured tights – grass green, sky blue and yolk yellow – peeked out as models strode forward. The final looks were silken suits decorated with graphic floral prints. The impression was of an army of corporate drones whose fabulous inner selves were bursting to reveal themselves.
In line with the current movement towards longevity in trends it made a subtle departure from the previous season rather than rethinking it.
Afterwards Prada explained that she wanted to use the collection to make a case for glamour as part of daytime dressing. “It is the quintessential cliche of what is considered femininity – sparkles, fringing, embroidery,” she said, arguing that when toughness and softness are combined, women are their strongest.
The catwalk was dominated by a plywood sculpture of Atlas – the titan who in Greek mythology was condemned to hold up for heavens for all eternity. Certainly, Prada has a lot on her plate too. She is a fashion legend – the designer who has launched a thousand global trends – but in recent years the company’s financial performance has not matched its cultural impact.
There have also been rumours swirling that Raf Simons – the acclaimed former creative director of Calvin Klein and Dior – might join the Prada group in some capacity which, trade publication Business of Fashion reports, Prada has declined to comment on.
Earlier this month Prada reached a settlement with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The commission had been investigating the brand since 2018, when photographs of a series of figurines which recalled blackface imagery, taken in the front of Prada’s New York store, went viral on social media. Afterwards Prada apologised, withdrew the items and established a diversity council, with members including filmmaker Ava Duvernay.
The agreement reached with the New York City Commission goes further, however, insisting all employees are given sensitivity training and requiring the installation of a diversity and inclusion officer to vet all designs “before they are sold, advertised or promoted in any way in the United States.” The decision could have ramifications for the industry at large – the commission is currently in talks with other brands, including Gucci, about similar missteps – and is a rare example of government intervention in a fashion brand’s practices.