"Dream is forbidden, nostalgia is forbidden, to be too sweet is not good. Everything we used to feel historically, now you can't enjoy. The clothes are the expression of this impossible dream." Miuccia Prada was in existential mode backstage tonight, talking about sentiment and feeling—both our yearnings for a more innocent state and the futility of those yearnings. No wonder there was a lot to unpack on the runway. The flowers, the pervasive Japonisme—here we had Prada embracing traditional tropes of femininity and womanhood, a geisha's servitude, even. And yet in her signature way, she couldn't help turning those notions inside out.
She opened with a short black dress in stiff satin, a panel print of two flowers stitched to the torso. There were only a handful of looks that followed that didn't have some sort of florals blooming on them: A white fur coat (for Spring!) was inset with Andy Warhol's Pop art daisies in red (adding to the sixties feeling was the collection's whiff of Courrèges). A black satin coat, meanwhile, was embroidered with papery origami blossoms. Still, the clothes had a spareness that worked like a balm after seasons of endless prints.
The collection moved from dark to light. By the end, Prada was manipulating, folding, and wrapping duchesse satin in palest pink and green to evoke the ritual of kimono dressing. (Both the runway and the columns in the show space were decadently lined with that satin.) Prada explained that the Japanese element came late in the design process. "I wanted it to be tough and serious," she said. "All the folding was a consequence." Duchesse satin tough? Again there was that duality.
There was poetry to these clothes, but walking the runway in either towering Harajuku girl platforms or leather judo socks bound with patent leather bows—flats in both cases, Prada pointed out—the models exuded power too. Leave it to Miuccia to tweak nostalgia into something that felt modern and new.