Concept Meets Cabaret: Prada Fall 2014

Judging from recent shows, Miuccia Prada is shaping up to be a Germanophile. Hints to 20th-century German culture abound — the more avant-garde, the better. So, even though she’d never be so obvious as to have a muse, she drew heavily from the German actress Barbara Sukowa for her fall collection.

Not familiar? She played the title role in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Lola, a 1981 classic of New German Cinema (a genre that ended a year later with the director’s death, at the age of 37). In the film, set in the 50s, Lola (who in a previous version was played by Marlene Dietrich) is a cabaret singer who’s linked with prostitution. As in the film, Sukowa is also a singer — who’s linked only with her husband, the artist Robert Longo — and she proved as much by belting out a few songs during the show, while an orchestra performed a selection from German composer (and socialist) Kurt Weill.

It all makes for a thick, evocative theme on which to hang a conceptual fashion collection. Large and heavily trimmed statement coats and jackets dominated — as they have in so many collections this season and last. And, while not packing the punch of Prada’s spring collection, its bright faces appropriated from Latin American murals, the outwear nonetheless commanded attention by way of bold shades of blue, orange, red, and gold — some with brash color-blocked shearling or fur. This represented the performer side of Lola, decked out and ready for the stage. The space, too, was envisioned by AMO as a cabaret, with an elevated runway and spotlights.

What lie beneath the coats were much more subversive, and they spoke to Lola’s other profession — see-through dresses. Essentially they were lingerie, though not the kittenish sort, but rather the mannish post-war Teutonic sort. As with Prada’s last men’s collection, each model also wore a necktie fastened at the side of the neck instead of the front, supplying still more sexual ambiguity.

Leave a comment