It’s about time someone got mad on the runway.
Gender discrimination, the wage gap, issues of body image and the activism it has all engendered may be dominant themes in the broader conversation, but women’s fashion, a sector that should by all rights be highly attuned to any disturbance in the emotional weather and focus of its customers, has thus far been surprisingly unresponsive. At least until Miuccia Prada started thinking with her scissors.
And what she thought was: “We should start being combative. There’s still so much against us.”
Or so she said backstage after a show that featured the walks of a whole lot more than 12 angry women, set against walls plastered with a multitude of looming female faces drawn by seven female comic artists who worked between the 1940s and the present in Japan and Los Angeles and Italy (including Trina Robbins, the first woman to draw a Wonder Woman comic book). Trapped in a scrum of journalists brandishing iPhone microphones in her face, the designer looked ready to push her way out.
“Militant, but in a practical way,” she added, of the clothes. “We need to be able to show cleverness, ideas, intelligence.” Mrs. Prada has always been less interested in what would please the male gaze than in what piques her own interest, and this collection was no exception.
Clunky shapes — camp shirts and Girl Guide shorts; dropped-waist pinafores that stood away from the body — were mixed with banker striped shirting, tailored coats and trousers and vests that had begun as black slates and then were printed with trompe l’oeil creases and cracks. Kitten heels were sharp as spikes, studs bristled from shoulders and sleeves, pockets were heavy with jewels. One sweater had spiders dangling on it. There was a fair amount of leopard and vintage brocade. Also those comic panels.
Not that there was much funny about it. Or even particularly flattering (maybe some of the pencil skirts, and a dress or two). But it had a punch. Backstage after their finale stomp, the models were hooting and chanting Mrs. Prada’s name. I’ve been in that zoo for years, and never heard that before.
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