Prada Resort 2020 collection (Maria Valentino/MCV Photo for The Washington Post) By Robin Givhan Robin Givhan Fashion critic Email Bio Follow Fashion critic May 4 at 4:06 PM NEW YORK — The designer Miuccia Prada showed some lovely clothes at her pink-bedecked headquarters here last week. She showed them on an ethnically diverse group of models. And while she invited her share of celebrities — Sofia Coppola, Marsai Martin — and influencers, she presented her collection without much hype or fanfare.
Prince Julio Cesar
There were dresses in an oddball mix of prints; shades of caramel and cinnamon blended together in roomy jackets; oversized paillettes jazzed up knits; and bowling bag-style purses harked back to a Prada classic. The collection was very “Prada,” meaning that it had its share of quirky color combinations, eccentric prints and the ability to extract sex appeal from rather demure silhouettes
Prada Resort 2020 collection (Maria Valentino/MCV Photo for The Washington Post) Prada Resort 2020 collection (Maria Valentino/MCV Photo for The Washington Post) Prada Resort 2020 collection (Maria Valentino/MCV Photo for The Washington Post) Prada Resort 2020 collection (Maria Valentino/MCV Photo for The Washington Post) In her collection notes, the designer focused on the idea of simplicity. But in a cultural sense, the clothes were more about civility — and the longing for it. In that way, it was an idealistic collection, as we are living in pretty much civility-free times
Sometimes fashion reflects what’s going on in the world; sometimes it reminds us of what’s missing
In December, Prada was in the thick of righteous incivility. The brand was the focus of social media fury over a key chain charm — a cartoon trinket — that was the inspiration for a window display in its SoHo store. Critics saw the little brown monkey with the bright red lips as evocative of black face, golliwogs and other racist ephemera that continue to pollute the culture
The incident, which spilled from the virtual world into the real one, was representative of just how deeply a company can insult and wound the public and how virulent the public response can be. Ignorance is maddening and inexcusable. And the public is right to react fiercely when the subject is racism. But after the yelling, what?
The company publicly apologized and removed the product from stores. By February, it had assembled an advisory council on diversity and inclusion, led by artist Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and announced plans for internships and apprenticeships and other steps aimed at mitigating the hurt to the public and the damage to the brand’s image
Redemption is in actions — and results. So the public waits and watches. But in the meantime there is this: a collection that is not about chest-beating and bravado, but calm
[ Seriously, Prada, what were you thinking?: Why the fashion industry keeps bumbling into racist imagery ]
This is not the brand’s first collection since the accusations of racism. But it’s the first runway show here since then. It’s part of the fashion’s industry’s in-between season: Resort 2020. These are the clothes that would seem to be perfect for right now, when you might like a light jacket in the morning when the air is crisp or you’d prefer a dress with long sleeves for a little extra warmth during the evening commute
Prada Resort 2020 collection (Maria Valentino/MCV Photo for The Washington Post) Resort is typically not a season that moves the fashion needle forward, but these are the clothes that stay in stores longest waiting for customers to buy them at full price. These are more accessible clothes; they don’t require an interpreter to make them understandable. These are the clothes most likely to be seen on the street
And with so much else to sort through in our world, Prada suggests wrapping yourself in a little peace and quiet — if not of your own making, then of hers