It’s wartime in Europe again. Well, sort of. Let me explain. It’s wartime in Milan, and on Miuccia Prada‘s runway in particular. Forget the 80s-inspired neon club excess that we saw on New York’s runways – Prada isn’t going clubbing anytime soon. The shapes and materials alike in Prada Fall/Winter 2009 reminded me of World War II movies as soon as I laid eyes upon them, and the reference is as overt as the 80s redux shown by Marc Jacobs. There are rich tweeds in neutral grey and brown, cinched at the waist with thin brown belts. The shoulders and fall of the skirts are strongly 1940s reminiscent, and even the beaded pieces have an austerity that reminds one of a world torn apart by war in Western Europe.
You’ll find no brights here, besides the occasional reddish-orange, but there are sumptuous materials like velvet and fur and the aforementioned beading, mostly in jet black. These are the things that make me think of 1940s movies instead of 1940s reality when I view this collection – no one in war-torn mid-century Europe was traipsing around in sequined tweed suits with adorable peplums, but the iconic actresses of the generation certainly did in the movies that now define the era; Lauren Bacall and Barbara Stanwyck come to mind. There’s a luxury amid the austerity that’s undeniable – burnout velvet, rich tailoring, leather and fur used liberally. This is 1940s fashion without rationing or bread lines, even in today’s economic climate.
And then there’s the odd touch of the thick, enormous leather boots that can’t help but remind this Southern girl of the waders that men wear when they go fly fishing or duck hunting. Certainly the luxury wardrobe of a world at war requires some shoes that don’t mess around, and the hip-high leather boots with chunky soles could probably get you through whatever mess you were to face. I’m not sure that waders were part of the fashion of the era, but if anyone can convince the fashion public that they were, it’s Miuccia Prada.