Sunday, March 1, 2009

Prada's garden of earthy delight

Chris Moore/Karl Prouse
By Suzy Menkes
Published: March 1, 2009

MILAN:With rubber waders rising thigh high and scarlet riding coats split at the side, Miuccia Prada's wickedly witty show on Sunday confirmed her place in Italian fashion's counterculture.

Prada's garden of earthy delight included the best coats and suits of this Milan season - precisely cut out of felt or leather and spreading from a small waist. They were topped with hairstyles that looked like the models had been up to something in the hay - even if the rings of sparkling red around the eyes suggested pure glamour.

"The collection was a take on the country," said Prada, as if we would believe that the scarlet tailoring or a slim dress with carwash strips of fabric would not be snapped up as city cool.

The way that Prada distanced herself from the punk-style power woman of this Milan season showed her absolute independence. In the enclosed space, with layers of seating around a small arena, which Rem Koolhaas, the set's architect, called "a retreat," the collection had a powerful sexual charge. That came not least from shoes that looked like a cockscomb had been hit by a scattershot of studs; or from the rubber boots climbing bare thighs to reach hefty shorts.

The show swayed subtly from garden to salon, as the autumnal russet of a sculpted coat switched to a plush brocade velvet while keeping the same silhouette: voluminous, with a bared portrait neckline, deep sleeves and a belted waist.

There was plenty of black to set off the bright colors and taken individually, the dresses and suits were spot on for a wintry financial climate.

"You need to uplift yourself, because it is difficult trying to be positive," said Prada. "But I am in a good mood."

Suzy Menkes is fashion editor at the International Herald Tribune.

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