February 10, 2009
While it's overdoing it to read too much symbolic importance into any pre-fall collection, the clothes Prada will ship into stores starting in June could serve as a brief diagram of the fundamental need/desire dichotomy that's opening up in fashion now. On the "need" side, there's a pragmatic black pantsuit (with a gather and tuck in the shoulder to give emphasis without padding), capacious utilitarian bags with nylon inserts, and plain classic Prada cardigans, as well as low-outlay comfort objects in the form of woolly socks, arm warmers, and knitted beanies with a peak and tassel. And on the "desire" front, there's a womanly burgundy pouf-skirted swirl of a dance dress that might've stepped straight out of a Mad Men cocktail scene, and draped black velvet dresses (subverted with leather inserts) that defy the idea that clothing must be useful and restrained in order to appeal. The new accessory is a fringed curtain of jet bead sewn onto a broad ribbon that can be tied at the hip to approximate a flapper skirt, or wrapped at the neck to become a flyaway neckpiece. Dual-purpose, hard-working fashion? Another way to go when money's tight.