Prada's Latest Runway Clocked the Evolution of the Boarding School Girl

Images via AP

Miuccia Prada always tells a story with her extravagant looks, and tonight in Milan the set gave away the plot: a runway organized into individual cubicles furnished by neatly made single beds and decorated with posters and collages, just like the shared rooms at some finely appointed boarding school.

Of course, the archetype for what happens to young ladies when they go to boarding school is that they transform into little hellions, introduced to all sorts of societal ills like shagging and reefer. Then the models began walking, first garbed up in ‘70s leather trenches, oversized velvet trousers and crocheted bra tops before slowly transitioning into beaded flapper gowns with elaborate ostrich headpieces that were both muppetlike and symbolic of letting one’s hair down; it was like a time-lapse of the young intellectual transforming into a malcontent. You could see Sally Draper in her bedroom in Connecticut (or wherever), learning chokily to smoke bogies and spliffs.


Fashion month thus far has had a rocky time dealing with politics’ slow but seemingly tectonic shift rightward, with many designers seemingly feeling around on the dark (and landing, mostly, on slogan tees as an unsatisfactory answer). Prada has never had that problem, having always been informed by her own political science background and adept at interweaving the cultural tenor into her creations.

Here, the looks evoke American protest culture in the aftermath of Paris ‘68; by imagining the weary mood felt in the early ‘70s after years of dogged resistance, she both mirrors our current consternation and reminds us that it was then and always will be youth culture that guides us forward. (Picture Hillary Clinton in a Wellesley dorm, learning from her classmates how to smoke grass. Sure, that never happened—as far as we know—but imagine it anyway. You know Sally Draper would be in Congress by now.) Soundtracked by elaborate pipe organ music and, in a weird mix, Missy Elliott’s “The Rain,” it was Dark Shadows via finishing school, all lush ostrich feathers on sensible coats. Only Miuccia can make moodiness this luxe.

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