Thursday, June 28, 2007

Prada Is NOT an Intellectual.

Everyone who follows fashion has their pet peeves, which usually arise from that infamous The Emperor's New Clothes feeling. My biggest one is Miuccia Prada's reputation as an intellectual. Even by one of my favorite journalists, Guy Trebay, who is usually an astute and sharp observer said it in today's NYT article.

I am not even too much concerned about the term "intellectual" used so frivolously. Intellectual, at least to me, does not merely mean a person whose work is cerebral, that is characterized by a determined and sometimes arduous thinking process. It means a person who either has devoted his career to, or at least by nature engaged in philosophical activity that bears some relation to the socio-political sphere through science, art, or philosophy. I actually cannot think of a single designer whom I would call an intellectual, and least of all Miuccia Prada.

Her majesty Queen of Blandness is the title I would give her, because blandness is what I see. Her empire is build on $1,000 handbags and $300 sneakers. Her runway shows are boring, and what gets into stores is even moreso. Ideas for her best shows couple of seasons ago where she used some color and embroidery to suggest "ethnic" (another term misused to death) motif have been a signature of Dries van Noten long before. It seems that it is enough to show the fashion world some dorky models and a shy "don't-praise-me" smile at the end of the show to be called an intellectual. If so, Prada has definitely succeeded.

But what about the clothes? For men what you will find in stores are basic shirts and suits not unlike those you can find at Theory. For women, an occasional dress buried among a heap of shoes and bags. Her clothes possess neither the quirkiness of Margiela nor superior quality of Jil Sander. The whole thing is one huge faux pas. The quality of her garments is inferior, her coats, for example, consistently lack ANY lining (even in the summer time a good coat will have partial lining, but in Prada's case even her heavier coats often have none). The fabrics she uses are sub-par, plenty of synthetics, and not of the high grade that Rei Kawakubo uses. So, since when did such clothes have become "cerebral" and a designer who creates them "intellectual?" Can someone tell me? In my humble opinion, the Emperor has no clothes.
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