Face Time: Prada Spring 2014

It doesn’t get much bolder, brasher, or more in-your-face than Prada’s playfully political spring 2014 collection today. Muralism —particularly Latin American — formed the lively inspiration, and with it a riot of colors, textures and ideas revolving around female empowerment.

Following a worldwide search, Miuccia Prada invited a handful of muralists — Miles “El Mac” Gregor, Mesa, Gabriel Specter, and Stinkfish, as well as illustrators Jeanne Detallante and Pierre Mornet — to spray-paint, stencil, and otherwise mark up the walls of the Via Fogazzaro venue in Milan. By gradually transforming the space into a rainbow of evocative colors and shapes, the artists in effect informed the collection itself.

Not too obviously though. Models emerged onto the streetscape in a similar jumble of colors, styles, and textures. Representations of women’s faces were screened onto all manner of dresses and skirts (there were no pants at all, none), some taking up the entire front, from collar to hem. Other portraits were paired with drab military-style coats, perhaps in a nod to Che Guevara, he of the most enduring mural of all. Socialism never looked like this. Even fur intarsia was utilized to showcase the varied visages.  

Other subversions of female dress codes included trompe l’oeil bra shapes stitched right into the garments, some with nipple darts recalling Anne Hathaway’s Prada dress at the Oscars; a freewheeling use of large paillettes and chunky gemstones; athletic-striped knee socks as legwarmers (which will be the accessory of spring); and very unsexy Teva-like sandals. A strategic use of upright feathers in the hair hinted at female warriors, perhaps las Indias of pre-Columbian Mexico.

At times approaching a Peter Max level of pop psychedelia, the stated concept took its cues from the political wall art of Mexican muralists, specifically Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, combined with an ongoing exploration into large-scale wall installations at Prada epicenters.

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