Judas Priest? At a Prada show? Oh well, Miuccia is nothing if not full of surprises, and Frederic Sanchez's pedal-to-the-metal soundtrack for her show today was only one among many of the question marks that hovered over her latest offering. Bearing in mind that one must always be aware of the context she creates for each new collection, the audience was offered Brandy Alexanders, Manhattans, and Blue Lagoons—cocktails from another time and place. The canapés were luridly colored squares of sandwich anchored with cocktail olives, and the set was a two-storied "house" with linoleum on the floor. So far, so kitsch. And that was before we saw the brown suede jacket with the maroon diamond pattern, or the mock turtleneck in emerald green Lurex—the kind of items a flashy traveling salesman might have donned in the sixties or the seventies to cruise the casino in whatever one-horse burg he'd washed up in for the night (after he'd been driving all day with the Priest on his eight-track). Some of the models carried a big square bag that could well have been that salesman's sample case.
Mercifully, you can't pin a Prada collection down to one scenario. Mr. Salesman is nobody's dream. But here, there was also a bizarre subtext—britches, stockings, pudding-bowl haircuts—that suggested puritans, until the knee-highs turned Lurex-sparkly. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that Prada has deliberately flirted with the out-of-time peculiar.
Getting back to suede for a moment, Miuccia has always insisted it's one of her least favorite things, yet it was all over this collection. In fact, she was even sporting a black suede jacket. But that intangible oddness may actually be the essence of Prada. She could have been quoting from herself with Art Deco prints (more mock turtles) that looked like sixties upholstery. And the ultra-boxy, three-button jackets that determined the collection's silhouette took the deconstruction the label has been flirting with in its menswear to a logical but alienating extreme (as compared to Spring's happy humanism).
A blast of Motörhead's "Ace of Spades" took us back to that salesman-in-the-casino analogy. The cards remind us that life's a gamble. And Miuccia surely knows that not every bet pays off.