During fashion week for spring 2012, perhaps the most potent symbol of male drive, hot-rods with fiery exhaust pipes, was the single feature responsible for catapulting Prada's ready-to-wear collection to immediate iconic status. And although I personally find some of the automobile prints incredibly tacky, I must admit they've grown on me substantially during the course of writing this review. Now I find them both tacky and wearable. Just look at these figure hugging leather skirts:
While more cartoonish and caricatural than classically beautiful, I think those skirts, especially the green one, have the potential to become quite the shizzle on the street come spring 2012.
Although it was the cars that ended up stealing the show, however, flowers were at least just as abundant a feature in the collection:
But it wasn't all flowers and satin. Miuccia also included a few garments with embellished roses; garments I count among my favorites in the collection. I mean, varsity jacket with embellished green roses, anyone?
Gaspingly pretty example of preppy meets sweet in a perfect marriage.
And how about this show-stopper of a pink skirt embellished with yellow roses?
This is candy coloured pastel perfection in my eyes. I don't just like, I drool.
Paired with the skimpy cartoon car top, the latter look also pretty much spells out the conceptual framework of Prada's SS12 collection: it's all about cars and flowers, folks! And apart from the conceptual coherence, the exquisite tailoring and delicate attention to quirky details, it is precisely the rich symbolism of this double-edged car/flower theme that makes the collection so interesting in my eyes. Granted, Miuccia may not be saying something entirely new with the theme, but that's not necessarily the point.
Cars and flowers signify a long line of dichotomies most of which in some way are related to the social construction of the sexes. Masculinity is reflected in the potent and active attributes of cars, whereas the yielding and passive natures of flowers signify the feminine. We must, of course, also not forget that this is a man's view of the sexes--a view that was also at the foundation of the gender roles that dominated the Western hemisphere in the 1950s from whence this Prada collection so obviously draws its inspiration.
Certainly, the fire from the hod rods' exhaust pipes evoke a potent and superior masculinity:
According to Style.com, however, Miuccia herself has offered the word "sweetness" to describe her latest Prada collection. But although this sweetness is amply signified by her assiduous use of flowers, rhinestones, broderie anglaise, satin, pastels and pleats, the juxtaposition of these sweet elements with the automobile theme seems to suggest that the spectator employ a decidedly male view on this sweetness. Sweet, obliging women, after all, pose no immediate threat to male domination.
Ah yes, that rosy, innocent sweetness:
But what about the shoes?
The shoes are really a chapter onto themselves with their flaming heels that echo the exhaust pipe fire blazing out from the back of the automobiles. Placed on the women's feet, which, of course, propel the women forward, the car symbolism is reiterated in a way that cleverly suggests that women and cars perhaps aren't so different from one another. Just like men are in control of their cars (women being notoriously bad drivers according to male chauvinistic humour), the man is also in control of the woman when she is made his object. No matter how sweet or how fast and dangerous a woman may be, she is ultimately the man's object and so, in the end, must succumb to him.
Finally, no matter how sweet and complying a man would want his woman to be, we must not forget that the objectifying male gaze always (a.l.w.a.y.s.) revolves around the sexualisation of the female body. This irrevocable sexual agenda Miuccia perhaps most obviously signifies with two flowy dresses sporting printed flames that lick suggestively up the skirts from their hems:
Talk about burning desire. Oh. And I wish that pink dress was a skirt. Just check how awesome it would be:
Although those green-edged black flames look to me like they belong in a ghastly tribal tattoo, contrasted against the sickeningly sweet pastel pink skirt, the flames somehow find their right environment and work. Come to think of it, those flames are really a classic example of what Miuccia does best: making bad taste look chic.
Pictures via: style.com