Ciao, pop! Prada's powerful new spring/summer collection returns to its subversive roots.
Looks from Prada’s “post-Pop” Spring/ Summer 2016 collection.
Unlike many designers today, Miuccia Prada, 66, works purely from her own aesthetic, alighting on whichever motifs grab her attention and waiting for the industry to catch up. In her Spring/Summer 2016 collection—one she has declared “post-modest, post-industrialist, and post-Pop”—she reprises rabbits and rockets on charming silk blouses. “I was trying to analyze the concept between honesty, humanity, and simplicity, compared with the necessity of being bold, aggressive, and loud,” she explained backstage at its runway debut.
The women’s ready-to-wear designs are a return to her roots, reviving Prada tropes: intarsia V-neck wool tanks and starched organza skirts with matching jackets. Also in organza are graphic frocks in 1920s flapper styles, striped leather blazers, and boxy suede car coats. And the handbags! Structured, top-handled lady purses; steroidal hardware and chains thick enough for tugboats; and the continuing evolution of the Inside Bag.
That “Mrs. Prada,” as industry insiders call her, commands universal respect in fashion is somewhat ironic, given that it was a world she was reluctant to join. Consider: She is likely the only fashion grandee with a doctorate in political science. Probably the only former Communist Party member with five years of mime training, too. It was not her ambition to take over Fratelli Prada, the luggage company her grandfather founded in 1913. Yet, in 1978, she taught herself design, and, seven years later, launched a range of instantly iconic black nylon handbags. Now, Prada boasts more than 600 boutiques in 70 countries, and turns over some $4.65 billion every year.
Still, integration wasn’t easy. From her first full collection, in 1989, Mrs. Prada refused to do things the “correct” way. “By definition, good taste is horrible taste,” she says. “I have a healthy disrespect for [conventional] values.” Prada helped subvert Milan fashion—which then was all “good,” glitzy taste—with elegant, understated stylings and unfussy shows, an attitude that continues to serve her today. Says the designer, “Fashion fosters clichés of beauty, but I want to tear them apart.” Tysons Galleria, 703-245-3438