• Text Alice SImkins
  • 25th September 2017

Cartoon heroines

Guests witnessed huge comic imagery covering the walls of the venue, a collaboration with eight female illustrators who depict women in their own “uniquely empowering way,” for a collection inspired by comics, the show notes read. The artistic line-up boasted work by Brigid Elva, Jöelle Jones, Stellar Leuna, Giuliana Maldini, Natsume Ono, Emma Rios, Trina Robbins, Fiona Staples and Tarpé Mills, the creator of the first female action-hero, Miss Fury. (This graphic art fascination follows Prada’s SS18 menswear show, which was decorated with the graphic art of Taiwanese-American artist James Jean – who reimagined this work into an exclusive zine inside HERO 18.) 

Like Mrs Prada’s cartoon heroine’s, her model’s exerted a certain toughness which was in great contrast to the feathers, frou-frou and frippery of the FW17 collection. Whereas the previous collection looked outwards with posters reading, ‘We have decided to look at the role women have had in the shaping of modern society’, this season was increasingly introspective, examining nuanced and numerous emotions.

The disparate soundtrack emphasised this point, with models opening the show to the carefree Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega, only to be interrupted by the distorted sounds of The Cure, PJ Harvey and Nirvana’s I Hate Myself and Want to Die (a HERO karaoke fav). The Prada woman was dressing for herself this season, with slicked back hair, studded mules and patchwork blazers, paired with sleek, sci-fi sunglasses. Notably, most of the footwear was either flat or featuring kitten heels, making ensembles increasingly functional. Like the music, there was a remix quality to the collection. Rockabilly tailoring, punk studs, skinhead brothel creeper-shoes, satin bustiers over printed shirts, leopard-print collars on herringbone coats, leather studded flat sandals. Masculine shapes met feminine elegance while eras, cultures and references were mashed together to form this season’s Prada personality. 

A DIY aesthetic prevailed, with magpie embellishments, shirts printed and tied, and ladylike handbags sharply studded while the comic motif ran throughout. Post-show, Mrs Prada praised the way in which comics can tackle serious subjects in a light and engaging manner, a trait very much in tune with the designer’s own output: delightfully tough and uncompromising.