Yesterday, once again, Miuccia Prada hit hard with her Autumn Winter 16 collection. The iconic designer delivered a titanium manifesto about the complexity of being a woman and the heavy baggage of accumulation she is facing everyday. As she said backstage of her show, "the nature of women is [...] like a Russian doll placed inside one another". This is a tribute collection to their power, their strength and the different masks they have to wear to be accepted & considered. Never forget how strong a woman can be. Think of these fascinating Fashion women Donatella, Rei, Simone, Phoebe, Chitose, Sarah...etc These women have achieved incredible things! In this collection, Miuccia Prada is showing the different paths a woman can follow and is depicting different kind of beauties, different kind of heroines. After all, a woman knows much about a woman's obsessions, about her aspirations, her desires & dreams.

Picture via the PRADA Facebook page

This AW16 collection is a deep & moving celebration taking place in a dark atmosphere (a kind of medieval wooden marketplace) lit by gloomy torches and whose silence is broken by a soundtrack created by Frédéric Sanchez (a soundtrack punctuated by women's voices). This is the same setting as the one for the AW16 Men's presentation & Pre-Fall: this can be seen as Part 2 of a double act, something Miuccia is familiar with. This collection takes some of the elements of the Menswear such as the sailor vibes (utility inspired outerwear, the hats...), the 50s vibes, the denim, the check print, the Christophe Chemin magical prints (on shirts), the high argyle socks, the lucky charm jewelry, the removable collars... But here, the designer is going further with complex patchworks mixing rich fabrics like velvet, brocade, printed silk, fur embellishments, leather, astrakhan: this is a unique fusion of fabrics but also and above all, a tricky, odd & kind of "perverse" composition to build a wardrobe that is overpowering women. Miuccia's heroine has wavy hair (by Guido Palau), a minimal make-up only twisted by intense red lips (by Pat McGrath) and is styled by Olivier Rizzo (perhaps he is the one who came up with this idea of putting a corset & belts over the garments?). Don't be mistaken, here, the corset doesn't stand for an idea of restrained femininity but it has to be taken as a weapon of choice just like this idea of wearing a coat with only a pair of woolen high argyle socks; a pure Prada idea. With this collection, Miuccia is playing with classic fabrics but in her own way, a distorted way that surely will make some eyebrows raise. 

When we're talking about "pure Prada", we are meaning a lot of oddness & re-appropriation targeting, at the same time Past & Present. This is an intense & complex storytelling about women's identities reinforced by a casting of faces, a perfect casting mixing the designer's favorites (Sasha Pivovarova, the baroness Stella Tennant, Julia Nobis, Mica Arganaraz, Lineisy Montero...) and new faces that will soon be on everyone's lips. There is also a huge part of mystery & symbolism in this collection, many things that Miuccia is not telling us: the signs on the clothes, the abstract prints, the pictures from old movies, the lucky charms (are they the new vanities?), the surreal nods... All these things allude to women's obsessions (like the brand new bags that are available straight after the presentation) and will haunt the people's minds for a long time. That's the Prada power, far from the trends & fashionable stuff. Miuccia is doing things in her own way and all these elements will soon become iconic & crucial for the future of Fashion. She loves playing with Fashion codes & above all, she loves reinterpreting them, adding a touch of "perversion", a touch of irony. But how "perverse" is this collection? Think of all the sublime outerwear deliveries: a grey coat with brown fur sleeves, a long leather jacket with furry hemlines & cuffs or a woolen khaki trench coat. Remember the multicolored crochet knitted bomber of the Menswear collection? Here it is revisited in a sharper version with astrakhan sleeves. Brocade is also essential to this collection, it is cut in dresses, skirts & boxy shirts. Denim is reworked to become beautiful uniforms, definitely having a military vibe (Is Miuccia telling us that the world is at war?). Velvet is cut to create sophisticated dresses adorned with jewelries or embroidered with flowers. 

Pictures by Federica Fioravanti for Dazed

The deconstruction process initiated in the Men's collection (presented in January) is perpetuated in the cuts of the fabrics, in the mixing & fusion of them, in the multiple insertions & chaos of decorations (in the accumulation of prints, jewelries, bags, belts... The eyes are travelling a lot with this collection). This AW16 tour de force is a new reverie:  the abstract print is stunning & charming even though we can't really tell what it is, as stunning & charming as the eccentric mini dresses made out of the shiny brocade & gold embroideries or the ones mixing brocade with another fabric. This is an opulent collection that has one goal, making women beautiful & strong. After her show, Miuccia Prada told Vogue.com that "as [she] gets older, [she] feels it is [her] responsibility to teach". With such a teacher, we'd love to learn, learn and learn again.  

Words by Yann Sackville-West & Charles Margueritte

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