Prada’s Archival Prints
Prada ready-to-wear is younger than you might think. Although the name commands the same reverence as heritage brands Gucci and Saint Laurent, Prada as we know it is only 31 years-old. In 1988 Miuccia Prada’s first runway show was praised as a minimalist masterpiece, a reputation the brand maintains to this day. But you don’t become canon on minimalism alone, which is why, in stark contrast to its tailored basics, Prada is also a champion of outlandish prints. These prints are some of the most recognizable fashion references of our time, taking us on a 30-year time warp of evolving aesthetics within a quickly changing media landscape.
The aughts were mired in kitsch aesthetics: oversized eyewear, 80’s athletica, printed wallpaper. (Long-time Prada collaborator Wes Anderson championed the look in movies such as the Royal Tenenbaums.) The teens turned this sense of kitsch inside-out and things we had decided were so bad they were good became good, full-stop. Prada’s relevance exploded. The brand’s barrage of prints and references is a manifestation of our digital world: all things and eras at once, like a carefully curated Pinterest page. As part of our Prada Archive Drop, we are taking a look at three of the brand's most iconic prints.
Surrealist Lips Print
Collectors will recognize this SS00 print from the same collection as the lipstick print (of Sex and the City fame.) The grid formation of disembodied purple lips casts light on Prada’s surrealism, a theme that was explored in the Met Costume Institute’s 2012 exhibit Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.
Miuccia Prada was a student activist before taking on her family’s leathergoods business in the 80’s. At one point, she was even the secretary of Milan’s Communist party. As an echo of her political past, in SS14 she collaborated with muralists to design the intimidating faces printed on garments in this powerful collection.
Beach-inspired prints are a recurring theme at Prada. The SS10 runway show is a memorable example: pig-tailed models wore metallic silk dresses printed with pixelized motifs of otherworldly beach scenes. The brand brought the mood back for Resort '14 with these nostalgic Hawaiian prints. Recalling kitschy scenes from vintage postcards of sunsets and pin-up girls, the brand questions our sense of what's tasteful.
Words by Cailin Smart
Graphics by Charlotte Bagherpour