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28 January 2008

My love/hate relationship with Miuccia Prada


Miuccia Prada has been said to have a love/hate relationship with fashion. She grew up thinking that as an intelligent women she was above fashion, this is a common thought among intelligent women. Mrs. Prada later came to realize that design is what she loves, and now steers a highly successful fashion empire. It seems she still has a bit of internal conflict that is sometimes apparent in her work and in her reticence to engage in some areas of the fashionable life. I can respect her conflict, and admire the fact that she did realize that very intelligent women can still care about fashion.

My problem with Mrs. Prada lies in the fact that sometimes her anti-fashion roots come out as fashionably ugly designs, fashion that is purposely unattractive and meant to provoke. Turbans? Have those EVER worked? Knee high footless color block socks? Utilitarian black nylon bags? Why are these things popular? If these things showed up Bergdorf Goodman without the Prada tag they would be on 70% clearance and then on to the outlet malls. These designs often become the darlings of the season and the pages of all the glossies are flooded with ugly brown shoes and purses covered in leather robots. In the fashion media the ugly or odd designs are touted as thought provoking and evidence of Prada’s status as the thinking woman’s clothing designer. Ugly fashion does not equal smart fashion!

This title of "thinking woman's designer" is the real crux of my dislike for Prada. It is the media’s portrayal of Miuccia Prada as the patron saint of intelligent fashionistas that irks me most, something that is actually hot her fault. I resent the idea that a single designer should be “the thinking woman’s designer.” I also don't really understand what makes Miuccia Prada a thinking woman's designer. Is it because she herself spurns fashion in favor of a uniform that his been called "school marm" in the past?

That said, Prada and Miu Miu do turn out some stunning designs, but I don’t feel they are any more remarkable that the interesting and beautiful things turned out by every other major fashion designer. For me, the Marc Jacob’s Spring 2008 show was design for the thinking woman. The Jacobs show had fascinating psychological and surrealist references and was even staged in a though provoking manner. It was thought provoking, it stirred controversy and discussion and not because his designs were ugly.

I do on occasion love the Mrs. Prada's work, for example the florals of the Spring 2008 collection and the 1950s silhouettes that so often pop up in Prada designs. I just wish the media would drop the “intelligent woman’s designer” moniker and concentrate on Prada’s wearable designs.

Images from,, and


WendyB said...

The thinking women's designer, eh? I'm aspiring to be the dumbass woman's designer. Someone has to represent the dumbasses!

laissezfaire said...

hey Chic & Charming, just found out about your blog(s) today. It's indeed chic and charming!

Tres Poshe Preppy said...

Yes, I have to admit. 10 years ago, I had an arsenal of utilitarian black nylon bags... Prada-Kate Spade...

Anonymous said...

It's because you're American that you find more inspiration in Marc Jacobs's tragic, nasty, fruity, ephemeral shit than with Prada and MiuMiu's elegant, timeless, cultured designs.

I mean, c'mon, look at the rest of your front page: You have it covered in ugly, frilly, pink shit you can find at TARGET and WILLIAMS-SONOMA?

How on earth could you possibly understand the history or practical application of timeless Italian design?

Don't be rantin' about the many things you don't understand, little girl!

Chic and Charming said...

I'm sorry you feel that way about my taste and about my blog.

Like I said in the article, there is a lot I love about Miuccia Prada's designs hence the "love" half of the title.

flutterbyblue said...

Lol! I have to admit, as an "intelligent woman" I can't imagine knee high footless color block socks ever being fashionable. :)

As a matter of personal opinion, I think the worst possible taste is that of someone who isn't civil with their criticism! We may not always agree, but respect and good manners are just as important as having excellent fashion sense. It would seem rather false to be elegant, timeless and cultured only on the outside.

Anonymous said...

The idea that European designers are lightyears ahead of American designers is just romantic hogwash. It's all they have to cling to after all their imperialist empires collapsed, something so superficial as "fashion." It's laughable. Besides, last time I was in Milan (last spring), every other woman was carrying some designer knock-off, fake Louis Vuitton, plastic piece of crap. Reeaally stylish. NOT. And plenty of Italians adore Marc. Plenty of Americans adore Miuccia. You know what's really elegant and timeless and CULTURED? Getting past ignorant, uninformed cultural biases. We live in a global community, so get with it and stop bashing one country or another.

Anonymous said...

The last time I was in Milan (last spring) every other woman was carrying a fake Louis Vuitton or Prada. How's that for "elegant, timeless, cultured design"? It's the tackiest thing I've ever seen. Fashion capital of the world, pu-leeez. You can cling to that romanticized notion of European fashion superiority, meanwhile, I prefer not to judge based on outmoded ideas of cultural or national divides. Plenty of Americans love Miu Miu. Plenty of Italians adore Marc Jacobs. We live in a global community, so keep your ignorant, closeminded comments to yourself.