This was a collection about travellers. Mrs Prada herself described this season’s Prada women as “vagabonds”. They treasured their clothes as protection and as luxury. Heavy tweeds and sturdy denim formed the basis of timeless, protective coats trimmed with rustic furs – a Prada favourite. However this was not the usual technicolour-pop Prada fur. It was sombre and seemed to have a certain austerity about it. An austerity that ran through the many sailor pea-coats that so defined this collection.
However this was not a collection just about plain rigidness. It was juxtaposed with softer and brighter fabrics and references to art. Indeed another Prada first: the inclusion of art in the actual garments, something Mrs Prada has always been very vocally against. This work was by Christophe Chemin, which reprised from the mens show. It was characterised by seeming both modern and old at the same time. At first glance, prints of colourful still lives, ancient Greek friezes and landscapes seemed entirely taken from the past. However another look revealed something new and modern, something which again ran through the whole collection. It seemed to be a woman who dressed and collected art entirely for herself. The way she dressed was also inspired by art: many floral embroideries and brocades seemed lifted from Pre Raphaelite paintings. Indeed there was something of John Everett Millais’ Ophelia in this mystical woman, emphasising a sensual femininity that is rarely seen in Prada.
The many trinkets bound to necks, belts and cotton corsets further emphasised this season’s woman as someone who displays her heart on her sleeve – quite literally. The keys, diaries and symbols all seemed to tell stories of places and tales of experiences. They also emphasised the wealth of great product on show in this collection. The shoes and bags -of which there was enormous variety where all great. This is what Prada needs, and delivered, in this time of economic uncertainty for the brand, with falling sales figures.
This new romantic vision of a woman who accesses her future through the past showed off some of Mrs Prada’s best work. The wealth of beauty, art and solid product pulled together into a truly standout show.