Nietszche’s The Birth of Tragedy is about the moment when the Greek gods, Apollo and Dionysus, decide to set aside their opposing views and value each others’ driving forces. Nietszche argues the pure poetic appreciation of the arts – belonging to Apollo - and the empassioned expression of Dionysus form the basis of the Greek Tragedy. The pain in not knowing we are so much more than petty individuals, coupled with the pain of denying one’s primal desire to consume and partake in wild revelry, makes up the human condition.
Prada, a self-confessed anti-fashion fashion person, lives and creates on the knife-edge of both worlds. She sees it as both pure poetic vision (Apollonian) and wreckless indulgence (Dionysian) - as well as overall tragedy. The Dionysus in her purposefully blinds us with the dazzling materialism of the world we live in via crystals and gemstones - she basically knows how to make us abandon our senses. She knows how to make us shop. Loving something because of the way it looks is the downfall of aestheticism – because it is isn’t real love. It can’t be - it’s based on the superficial. Many of these clothes in this collection knew that. They were all-knowing magpie chasers. And we were the magpies. In a postmodern way, this then saw the clothes re-earn value.
Prada knows how to divert us. Yet, she is playing with us again. The non-pointedness to so much of this collection, with its crushing and recrushing of so many references, was the point. Her work is so much more than fashion – yet Prada appears to be purposely sabotaging her own medium, time and time again. She wants us to know this is a dream not worth having, yet she makes us want to buy that dream back from her.
Prada’s communist roots are here, within the most maximalist of collections. Through the sheer mass of prints, embellishments and accessories, there was ironically a deliberate feeling of ejection from the season. Similarly to Lagerfeld at Fendi, it was like she was also sitting this one out - yet ironically sitting within the centre of the season. Dowdy fifties housewives, complete with sheer duster coats, were covered to the neck in macramé ponchos. They had a veneer Victorian melancholy when regarded upwards from the neck. Vinyl Formica stripes and cork relief prints placed our housewives within the setting of a mid twentieth century suburban nightmare. These women knew they were so much more than petty individuals - yet they devilishly appropriated the uniform of the apathetic. Trapped within the confines of the domestic home, the models were caught in a seemingly picture perfect lifestyle. In contrast, peaks of optimism were present in the rose moon boots - they made one wish they could be Penelope Pitstop, aboard an Apollo mission. Accessories were piled high and the hair was worn in the South American gelled baby hair style, which we have seen recently at Givenchy and upon the angelic face of FKA Twigs. It also connected one to the Prada season of Spring/Summer 2011, when she flung us into a Last Tango in Paris - with Carmen Miranda and Josephine Baker. Elsewhere in this season’s collection, inverted V drop-waisted dresses offered bookish girl power, whilst apron panels tied our girls to the kitchen sink. This collection had a lot of push and pull.
By the time the paillette laden coats and suits arrived, us viewers were so anaesthetised by dazzle, that we had all pretty much collectively slipped off the knife edge – into the Dionysian world of desire, and into the branches amongst the magpies. Regaining consciousness, one was thankful for the trip.