Monday, May 13, 2013
Prada Spring 2013
I know the ethics of cultural appropriation has been a hotly debated topic in the fashion industry within the last few months*- after being incorporated across clothing for decades now. Prada's Spring collection of 2013 borrows oriental style from traditional Japanese culture, but without heavily relying on it. Sure, the silken pale pink jackets and wooden heel sandals scream of the geisha universe but the structure of the jackets has been reinforced with more starchy material than Imperial silk, sharper shoulders and general Western flow. Omissions of obi, dragon motifs and traditional motifs are a step in the right direction moving towards original concept design furthered by asymmetrical jacket lapels still carrying feminine charm. Instead there's the juxtaposition of short, androgynous pompadour hairstyles which appear to follow this Rookie video tutorial, surprising jersey sportswear and thick geek glasses adorned in meticulous plastic petaled flowers. For any Australian fashion blogger who followed the Kim Ellery case, did you notice her final court appearance? I found it surprising she chose to wear Prada floral sunglasses when she herself has sunglasses designed under her label Ellery but I suppose it says something about the global fashion hierarchy. I've also noticed models of certain brands batting out of their league and buying more prestigious, expensive and luxurious labels for their leisure wear but I guess all this is a story for another blog post.
I found the emphasis on the toes of the shoes combined with metallic silver material to be a little baffling like the blueprints of natural running shoes that promote traditional and lightweight design but still obviously being showed... eventually I came to regard the concept as iconic in its own, lovingly peculiar way but noticed a certain missing niche market for the shoes on eBay. For a fashion house label as expensive and glorious as Prada I know the consumer is supposed to buy into the experience of big fancy doors and dramatic window displays but for a poor uni student scavenging other people's cast-offs can be just as good. Since I'm like an isolated island floating in a deserted ocean when compared to buzzing activities of mainstream fashion bloggers, I have no idea whether anyone took to the footwear exhibited in this collection. Perhaps some people love these pieces so dearly they will try to hold on to them forever and ever. Or they may just never were initially bought in store. Who knows?
I think the strength of this collection lies in the diverse assortment of floral motifs- Miuccia Prada no longer being confined to the two-dimensional silk print motifs of Summer/ Spring of 2010; instead moving on to design a range of ornate petal arrangements and nectar offerings. The combination of classically feminine motifs against the angular silhouettes which bewitchingly hide the female form... as opposed to what could have been an ocean of sheer or tightly fitting bodycon skirts/ dresses. Oh wait- that's what every single store in a downtown shopping centre looks like. But enough badgering of the local and public accessible fashion industry, it bores me so, they could never engineer sandal boots imitating precious metals towering inches above the ground. And I'm unlikely to find tourist carved wooden-heel sandals lying about in the corner of just any old op shop; they've all been undoubtedly predated on by vintage resellers and businesses aiming to make a quick buck from the inflation of prices. It sounds like I hold a mean grudge against these establishments and in principle I suppose I do but in reality they are magical places with decor to die for that get my creative juices flowing. It's hard to find an aesthetic middle-ground where prices are kept at a minimum but I can really identify with the ideas and concepts of a collection; free images are prime real estate to broke teenagers such as myself.
The deeper we get into Winter, the more I keep creating gingham collages and incorporating novelty chocolate foil wrappers of ladybugs in my collages...I wonder what insects think of all the flowers in this collection and whether they'd try endlessly to pollinate them (evidently I have been working far too hard on uni assignments and can't shake the entomology mindset I have immersed myself in for the last week and a half!). But on a serious note, the whimsy and fantasia of this collection is deadly delightful. Yes I just used a bunch of opposing image-evoking words all jumbled together but it's this sort of confusion in fashion that I relish. I relish the strange insults uncultured uncouth are bound to dish out on the streets and the misconceived responses of cretins. It sounds almost contrary to believe you could really justify insults with a feeling of validation but it's all character building I guess which is what every high school advocates to their students in one form or another at some point. And it's a little easier for me to explore the social sciences and effects of this collection rather than running a tedious laboratory experiment and logging the interactions of floral clothing and insects. For the moment that is.
I'll admit I am not a huge coat fan; when the weather turns cold I hide in large sweaters and swamp myself in yard long scarves being reduced to a peeking nose and shroud of long but somehow still weedy hair and beanie. Instead, I turn my attention to the magical menagerie of skirts and all their wonderful, pleated intricacies. Usually I get so wrapped up in colour and patterns that I lose the perspective of three-dimensionality when it comes to clothing; or this is my interaction with a two-dimensional image being far too timid to brazenly walk in to a Prada boutique and play with their clothing (afraid of being snuffed out by sales assistants OR WORSE leading them on to think I can afford to spend a few thousand dollars in their store at once!!!) but simple pink allows me to see the *architecture* of the skirts and techniques that went in to their manufacture. Manufacture in a loving way, under a studio run by pixies and probably smells like a French patisserie no less, as is my deluded understanding of how fashion houses operate.
*But does anyone else find it strange that appropriation is kind of everywhere? I mentioned it being around for a long time; seriously I find twenty year old shirts borrowing from some type of ethnic craze brandishing elephants, paisley etc. but it seems the big brand names pay the most. Because consumer outrage can be directed somewhere, the brand can overall suffer and somehow a vindictive group of people can feel justified in ruining a business- but what about the smaller operations that do the very same thing? I don't think the whole issue is as black and white as to say, you belong to a culture and only you can wear/ identify with that style because that sort of dangerous thinking can exclude the sharing of cultures. If people were too concerned with strictly adhering to a single race/ country/ religion I may not have even been born; being a bi-racial daughter of a loving Caucasian father and Asian mother marriage and partnership.
I've been observing the conservations of feminist groups on Facebook, a silent observed if you will, and some people seem so wrapped up in being politically correct they're willing to really let it effect the way their perceive and interact with the wrong. I can appreciate their approach and sentiments to not offend people but isn't the twentieth century global community willing to put the strict stereotypes and typecasting of darker days behind us? Prada presents a neat summation, from which I draw my arguments where minimal toes were metaphorically stepped on but the winds of Asia and fashion industry change sweep over us- and frankly it's a much needed step in the right direction.
Aside from my whole, huge and distracting argument as a side note on cultural appropriation in fashion I hope you enjoyed my review of this particular Prada collection and found it at the very least understandable. At this stage of my school semester (starting of Week 10 out of a possible 12 weeks) I have absolutely given up on cohesion losing faith in my grey matter cells to do anything but focus on the very basics of survival; eating, sleeping and watching Doctor Who. Despite the collection delivering a confusing jumble of tongue-in-cheek design with the very best materials money can buy I thought conceptually the whole reinvention of Japanese culture to be very interesting and at the very least entertaining. With the main brand label of Prada taking such a dramatic turn in their design, I wonder what little sister Miu Miu will hold in response in the next few collections to come? Needless to say, my purse strings will be poised for the dramatic end results.