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Prada Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2014 Milan

First it was the Prada invitation. Always a bit odd and obscure, this time it was a stack of images, close up shots like missing puzzle pieces, with the name and title of the artwork on the back. Then came the matte black books, handed out to all who were lucky enough to have a seat at the show - the first time in recent memory that Miuccia Prada has ever given out anything even closely resembling a show’s program notes. And then there it was- the Prada set. The designer had constructed a massive, angular space where the audience was surrounded by walls covered in immense murals of women.

According to the handy booklet, the concept got its starting point in the political wall art from Mexican muralists. Prada then tapped six promising artists to create imagery that would evoke the “multiplicity of guises that women assume in the course of a day, or a lifetime.” Those artists- El Mac, Mesa, Gabriel Specter, Stinkfish, Jeanne Detallante and Pierre Mornet- worked directly on the walls of the show venue, and in doing so created a vibrant, evocative and urban landscape that practically pulsated with energy.

Note to self: Invest now in a piece from one of these muralists.

With such an all encompassing backdrop, Prada had her work cut out for her to create a collection that could pull the audience’s attention away from their bold surroundings.

And that is exactly what she did.   

She transferred elements of the murals onto her urban Rainbow Brite collection. Female faces would adorn the side of a skirt, the front of ladylike handbags, or be crafted into colorful fur coats. When an at the knee dress or coat wasn’t reworking elements of the artwork into its design, Prada was covering them in rainbow rivulets of colorful plastic sequins, or edging them in striped ribbed knitwear.

There was also a strong sports component to this collection that helped to underline the city life aspect of the show. Most prominently, this was evident in the sports bras that the designer embellished with crystals and layered on top of her shift dresses, and then she built them into the tops of those dresses, and finally created a trompe l'oeil alternative with colorful bra motifs featured on long sleeve tops. Athletic accents, such as the tube sock leggings (which will not sell at “three for a dollar”) and the high heels masquerading as rubber toed tennis shoes, helped to cement this collection to its urban environment.

This was one of those seminal Prada shows that people will look back upon as a point when fashion went in a new direction. One where dynamic color, artistic ingenuity, and the force of a buzzing metropolis combined, to make one hell of a fashion moment.