Feminine Feminism at Prada and Powerful Mistresses at Fendi

Women can be both feminine and feminists at the same time, Prada's statement is clear. “When frivolity is intelligent it’s the best way to express women’s power,” said Miuccia Prada before the show. “I now consider the word glamour, which I rarely use, as an expression of strength. We don’t need anymore the 80s power suiting to affirm our toughness, on the other hand I wanted to enhance the value of the everyday’s things and objects: wools and knits, sportswear pieces and makeup products turned into bijoux. For this I have been a bit influenced also by the Vienna Secession for its aesthetic, the palette recalls it in some bold colours, a reaction to the invasive industrial world and mostly for its link with art and craftsmanship.” The collection recalled a lot of the House's famous past designs, like the unforgettable late 90s (fall-winter 1998, to be precise) panelled skirts that showed bare legs; the classic and severe tailoring, a trademark of Signora Miuccia; the precious crystals embroideries; the nylons turned into bourgeois items; the mix lingerie transparent tulle paired with lookalike leggings and sports bras. This new remix turned out to show a very confident Prada woman even if, in the second part of the collection, the image weakened a bit for the excess of embellishments and layers. “Actually it was a collection made by instinct,” explained the designer. “I saw the sculpture in the middle of the stages with an outlined silhouette of Atlas the Titan and made me think that our world is already so complex that we would have need more lightness, so my first thought was to push towards a more playful approach stressing to the contrast between the men’s tailoring and the careless part.” A picture of women’s plural identities summed up in a look where a long heavy pepper-and-salt wool coat, worn with shirt and tie, showed frilly pale blue fringes and legs underneath.

 

"It’s a collection resulted from an easy question,” seemed echoing Silvia Venturini Fendi before her show. “Which kind of women I want to describe? Feminine, independent and strong, starting from the staples of her wardrobe as powder pink, laces, lingerie, stockings, feminine uniforms, instilled with erotism. Today we are confident women, so we can repossess of our girly codes.” The inspiration came from the French movie 'Maîtresse' (1975) by Barbet Schroeder with Bulle Ogier and Gérard Depardieu, with costumes made by Karl Lagerfeld. The protagonist is a woman with a double life shared between her normal daily existence and the professional BDSM sex activities, so the mistress-feeling in the show was very strong. “I loved to mix the romantic dress with new shapes with materials that turned them into a modern look. That’s why I also decided to use women of different ages (Karen Elson, Jacquetta Wheeler, Caroline Murphy, to mention few), or girls with softer shapes. Even the powder pink set made the difference as it is not straight as we use to do.” In fact, there was a high haired carpet floor and a sinuous long sofa that recalled the Uli Berger, Eleonore Peduzzi Riva and Klaus Vogt modular sofa. The sculpted sleeves turned into special items even a classic coat or a chiffon dress, the fishnet lingerie tops were "censored" by chiffon bands, the cleavage had a keyhole shape in it reminiscing of the voyeuristic idea. The fun (but an economically relevant voice in the financials) accessories were notable like the Apple watch case used as a charm, the earring that became a tablet or the portable and foldable glasses. The dominatrix effect was successful and avoided a namby-pamby look, on reverse even the pinkest look had a twist that added strength to strength. 

 

“It sounds new for the Max Mara woman to be romantic,” said Ian Griffiths, Creative Director of the brand. “She has been focused on her career to become powerful and emancipated, so now she is facing a new challenge of her life.” In order to find her delicate mood, she explored the creative world in its entirety. From poets such as T.S. Eliot to artists like Tracy Emin and musicians like Stevie Nicks, they all connected with a love for the oceans. This is a potent metaphor of today’s world in danger, but still with hope for the future. “Fashion should be a relief to escape for one second from this global complicated conditions and an ideal ship to cross this storm here we are living,” explained the designer. “Of course she is aware that she can’t save the world, but she is engaged in trying to change people’s mindsets. Having some time for ourselves could be helpful to focus on other people needs.” Her wardrobe had, of course, a lot of maritime references, the stripes, both on the classic navy blue and the signature camel colour. Duffle coats, peacoats and bomber jackets were mixed with flounced sleeves and asymmetric skirts. Griffiths' wish to turn the Max Mara woman into a more romantic human being worked well, the injection of girlish elements in the Maison classics well enlightened the winter look. 

 

Jeremy Scott sent a message to the actual political élite who are running the world admonishing them through the lens of his ironic fashion approach. This season's woman is a modern Marie Antoinette blended with the Japanese anime aesthetic of cosplays. The French queen became a kawaii symbol of a wrongly reigning monarch embodied by models wearing farthingale and panier dresses, jackets and even hoodies or cake dresses to symbolise the exclusive opulence of those times. The bold coloured jacquard brocades yet keeping the XVIII century flair, recalled the glamorous 70s perfectly fitting with the other exaggerated outfits. Accessories were in the same tune with platform shoes, cake bags and the infamous croissants turned into pouches. The American designer knows how to create a dream and sell the logoed merchandise and, even though the show seemed a bit absurd, it delivered the final result. So, this time, God save the Queen.


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