Prada has been going through some tough times lately. Just as upstarts like Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia shake things up and get lots of attention (deservedly so in Michele’s case), Prada has seemed a little less relevant, a little less directional.
Fashion insiders still love it but bloggers are less obsessed and its resale appeal on sites like Vestiaire Collective and eBay appears to be lower than that of some of its luxury peers.
But is a change on the horizon? The SS17 collection has cropped up in a lot of street style pics this fashion month suggesting a subtle shift in sentiment. Now Prada is well known for changing direction rapidly but if the SS17 collection is selling well, it makes sense to offer up some continuity and the AW17 line looks like it has a lot in common with its summer predecessor (those fluffy trims for a start).
So is this a return to form? In many ways, yes. There are some star pieces that mix commercial wearability with a big enough dash of creativity to help move fashion forward.
And there are some pieces that have probably already made it onto numerous wish lists, as well as key items and details that the high street will be all over.
Those feather trims on skirt hems are low hanging fruit in this respect. In power pastels and combined with colourful print or embellishment, they offer up an after-six look for the autumn that doesn’t feel too formal.
The peplum hem skirts and dresses in cosy, fuzzy materials are a quirky take on a look Prada has visited before but offer a new slant on cold weather dressing, as doe the corduroy pants and suits.
And the prints that look like Fellini movie posters are a retro-infused modern take on the label’s fondness for figurative print stories that have strong visual appeal.
Outerwear is big news for this collection, from the oversized collars on coats and the leather/knit panel combos on jackets (both of which have been seen elsewhere this fashion month but rarely better than this). The patterned peacoat and longer, wide pattern coat are star pieces, along with the brand’s favourite curly texture coats that are echoed in a colourful update on yeti boots.
And we can’t ignore the cardigan suits – in contrast colours with 50s-meets-60s beading, they’re the coolest incarnation of cardigan suits since … well, ever. I’m not so mad on the geometric pattern knit suits, but there had to be something I wasn’t fond of in this crowd.
Detail is important too from the heavy knit texture of the newsboy caps and scarves, to knitted peplum hems on silk dresses, those giant buttons used as shoe trims, the breaded fringes, trompe l’ceil designs on bags and strap detail on slim-cut over-knee boots.
Yes, it’s a return to form but will it be enough to turn around the brand’s fortunes and show the newcomers how to be an influencer that also sells a lot of product? That we won’t know for a while but I’ll be looking forward to the Prada results announcement come next February.