DMT Beauty Transformation: Prada: The Message is Love
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Prada: The Message is Love

February 22, 2024BruceDayne

MILAN — “I never want to send messages,” Miuccia Prada said after her latest show with Raf Simons on Thursday, but I guess she just can’t help herself. The collection was so resonant, so bittersweet, echoing hope and dread equally, keen to endorse love and beauty as universal values, simultaneously aware that love and beauty aren’t enough when the grinding gears of history are reducing human beings to nothing. It was a bold, provocative proposition, and the duo showed clothes to match.

Prada and Simons broke history into fragments which they then reconfigured in artful ways. She referenced Walter Benjamin, the German Jewish philosopher who died under the Nazis and has in recent times become eminently, understandably quotable. It’s not conservative to take something from the past, it’s liberating it from its cage. The collection drew recognisable bits and pieces from all over: tweedy Edwardian tailoring, sinuous ‘20s slips, an haute couture trapeze coat and a varsity jacket, military garb, bloomers and a biker jacket, and all sorts of dramatic feathered headgear.

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Prada Autumn/Winter 2024 look 1. (Spotlight/Launchmetrics)

Just check what Rianne Van Rompaey was wearing. From the front, she was sporting an enormous cuffed trouser leg, worn as an apron. From the back, she was wearing an iceblue silk slip, the apron tie resolving itself in an extravagant rosette. Her black turtleneck offered some rational respite before we came to a Ruritanian policeman’s cap in crushed purple velvet. Oh, and there was a sedate little handbag dangling from a Mineshaft-worthy leather buckle. The demure stance Rianne was compelled to adopt to accommodate this accessory was the perfect match for her pointy mid-heeled shoe. Capote Swan incarnate. This was one look. There were 57 more. History rolled over and over into 58 balls.

A unifying factor was the sense of values that underpinned the complexity of the clothing. You have to know and love fashion to distil it down like this. You become aware of the multitude of lives that are lived in clothes. Sounds basic, but it has an enormous emotional weight. Clara Deshayes’s enormous soundtrack cued me into this train of thought. Nico’s version of “My Funny Valentine,” Irma Thomas’s “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is,” emotion-drenched songs interrupted by stentorian blasts of sound, like the soundtrack of “The Zone of Interest,” a movie so devastating that Miuccia and Raf could scarcely speak about their response. It’s scarcely fair — or appropriate — to introduce it here, but if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean about the power of clothing to communicate lives present and past.

At the same time, the fact that a Prada collection can elicit such a response is testament to the brand’s unique personality. Miuccia may have insisted she was message-averse, but, looking out at the world the way it is right now, she could only hope that the work she does inspires with the love that is embedded in its heart. “This was not an easy show to do,” she said. “I put a lot of mental effort into it, but it’s important to produce some goodness.” The show’s staging was stunning: plants, greensward, babbling brook, all of it sealed under glass. Memorialised for one doomed world, or preserved for the next hopeful one?



Tim Blanks, DMT.NEWS, DMT BeautySpot,

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