March 05, 2014 Paris
Prada frequently returns to normality; she often revels in it. This is not to say that she just presents something desultorily and day-to-day, then shoves it on a catwalk—that's not fashion, after all. Instead she designs, re-contextualizes, and skews. Prada makes you think as well as laugh, and above all she infects you with a desire for quilted nylon from the bottom of your heart. And that's because, well, she has a desire for quilted nylon from the bottom of her heart. "Everybody thought I was crazy with this, with the amount of times we tried getting this right," the designer said of the key fabric of the collection. "I worked for one month on the right windbreaker that was not puffy-puffy. The perfect windbreaker—I had to get it right."
"I am fixated on the notion of no useless design," Prada continued. "Ideas are a different thing. But when things are overdone from nothing, I can't stand it; it had to be more real, more wearable, less pretentious. What is normal, what is real, is what is important. In Paris you go slightly more grand, but this time I went, 'Who cares?'"
Who cares, indeed. Prada covered the entire Palais d'Iéna in clear plastic, from floor to columns, echoing that Prada code of the clear plastic mac that made a familiar appearance in the collection and was added to by skirts, tops, and boots. The rest of the venue was covered in rough scaffolding; again utilitarian—you sat on it. A mini version of the supportive metal scaffolding poles was formed as heels for shoes. Above all, the designer presented a new kind of Miu Miu girl, one more stripped down and utilitarian than ever before. This was a girl that would not be out of place in the north of England, wearing a ski jacket and a school uniform, eating crisps at a bus stop in 1986, like a Rita or a Sue from an Alan Clarke film. Re-contextualized in this highest of fashion settings, she was aggressively normal, avant-bland, normcore.
Yet as the show progressed, she became more and more extravagant. As Tori Amos' version of "Enjoy the Silence" was replaced by a dance mix of Depeche Mode's original, the girl exploded into quilted brocades that looked to have Lurex running through them, her home knits revealing delicate underwear underneath. Intricate metal appliqués appeared on plastics—the silhouettes were similar, but the fashion came to the fore. Yet you were still left with the lingering impression of the start: the quilted nylons, the windbreakers, and the everyday. "Normality is weird," said Mrs. Prada. And in fashion, that is undoubtedly true.