The Magnificent Miuccia » Manolo's Prada Blog!






The Magnificent Miuccia

By Manolo

Manolo says, in this month’s super gigantic Vogue magazine there is the article entitled “The Magnificicent Seven” about the seven designers who have “partaken of the dramatic romanticism that characterizes what is best and most directional in fashion today”. Of the course, our muse, the Miuccia, she is included in this group.

Beyond the polite niceties of mouthing congratulations, there is a reason people crush backstage to meet Miuccia Prada after her shows: They want to see, up close and personal, what Miuccia herself is wearing—because what Miuccia wants to wear, almost inevitably, is an accurate barometer of how women the world over will soon be dressing. If Miuccia’s in a full pleated skirt, you can bet you’ll be wanting to ditch anything that’s constricting from the waist down. If she has sprinkled a constellation of diamond brooches on a cardigan, you, too, will soon develop a yen for sparkly pins. Even the sight of a headband holding back the designer’s hair gives pause: Maybe you don’t have to be seven years old to get away with one?

Backstage you also have a chance to catch a few rare words from Miuccia, about what she thinks of fashion that particular moment. Prada’s pronouncements come down—a bit cryptic, sometimes puzzling—like utterings of the Delphic Oracle. Take, for instance, how she explained this latest fall collection to Vogue: “A femininity that is antique, dolente, and strong—like in some Chinese movies.” As a visual representation of this somewhat mysterious statement, she provided an image of the actress Li Gong, who in her recent movies—2046 and Eros—has revealed a dark, dramatic beauty, and worn clothes with the spare and elegant silhouette of the fifties.

Sure enough, you can find echoes of the Chinese cinema in Prada’s strict black coats with collars that suggest the necklines of silk robes, and dresses scattered with blooms that look like they belong on a fan from old Shanghai. But these are scudding references, moments briefly illuminated that quickly go dark again. Where does the crochet, and the passementerie and the grommets, fit into all of this?

That’s the real power of Prada. Nothing is ever literal or obvious or played out. She still nurtures the mystique that surrounds a designer toiling alone with her thoughts. And that, in an era where more than a few faces from the supermarket tabloids think that making clothes will be as easy as making pop music, is to be treasured.

Prada is also a woman making clothes for other women. This statement isn’t a preface to some specious argument about how, because of her gender, she is able to design better. But Prada does process her inspirations differently from the other (male) designers featured here. Like her contemporaries, she will abstract aesthetic possibilities from the cultural sources that interest her, but there’s also another impetus, too: She’s also always looking at ways to retool her own personal style.

“Clothes should always represent your vision of yourself,” she says, “or what you want to represent—even if it’s only for one night.” She might, for instance, watch Jeanne Moreau in François Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black, and then try to capture the composure and calm projected by Moreau’s on-screen wardrobe of short, severe black ensembles; this will set in motion a darker, more severe movement in her own wardrobe … and that, in turn, will be reflected on the runway. That’s why people leave a Prada show thinking that what she has done is so very, very new—and so very, very Prada.

There is one paragraph in this that is perhaps the smartest thing the Manolo he has read all year, and the writer, the Mark Holgate he is to be commended for it. Read it again.

That’s the real power of Prada. Nothing is ever literal or obvious or played out. She still nurtures the mystique that surrounds a designer toiling alone with her thoughts. And that, in an era where more than a few faces from the supermarket tabloids think that making clothes will be as easy as making pop music, is to be treasured.

This it is so correct that it almost takes the breath away. Many are the times when the Manolo he has lamented the fact that eveyone and their dogs think they can become the designer of the clothes. Designing the clothes at the level of the Miuccia it is the form of the art, and to believe that you can do it without the thought or the talent, it is ridiculous.

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