City Pulse

By Amber Roniger

“…the alchemy of turning mundane matters into precious snippets of poetry… is typical of Prada.”

Prada’s philosophical fashion retrospective Waist Down is a fashionista’s MOMA and a wordsmith’s wet dream, la-de-da! This seamless mergence of fashion, architecture, motion, philosophy, dance and sheer aesthetics is on display in honor of the spirit of the skirt, in celebration of the silken joy, in tribute to the worth of the skirt. There’s just no way around it, skirts are dead sexy.

A bit over-dramatic? Moi? Dramatique?

A word of caution to you fashion mavens, you goddesses of shopping, you mavericks of taste, mark my words that you would be sorely remiss to miss this girlie eye candy eventful journey through the skirted-mind of Muiccia Prada from the late ’80′s till today. If ever skirts could be accused of exhibitionism, here is it: skirts gone wild, hello? bonjour! These saucy skirts on display literally twirl, flirt, flounce, flower and ga-dunk-a-dunk their undulating pendulum strut on the catwalk walls. Such fierce attitude in three-dimensions! Who knew?

I had never before explored the philosophic depths and poetic resonance underlying a Prada skirt, a blueprint so female in form and desire. It was a lot to ponder. (I’d keel on bended knee to see Princy-P Charles trying to pull off that mesh number, what a hoot!) Encountering each bodacious creation is akin to clicking on the skirted bulb in my fecund imagination and parting the frilly curtains. I see the bedazzled light!

A measure of comparison: I viewed the CHANEL at the Met and on the most basic level, Prada’s fomenting and living display kicks Chanel’s derrire back into last year. Muiccia’s skirts, enchanted into artistic life by AMO, is a coup du ingnue, cloyingly feminine, urbanely inventive.

“…gentle undulating space for a wild parrot’s abundant feathers to flap…”

Who else but MP is such a capable genius to reveal a skirts’ feminine movement, sans a model’s curvaceous swerves? What brilliance provokes the beauty of motion on a fan blade or window wiper? Exposes the stoic stability of a sculptural skirt? Who dares such defiance of the runway shows? Even the walls sport booty in Muiccia Prada’s skirts, dishing up attitude all over the joint.

The skirts’ movement melds as if a musical composition, an operatic flower filling my brain. I am seized with vertigo from dizzying, mocking fabric laughter, even as I descend la grand dame staircase into the cavernous underground.

Skirts adorning frozen mannequins still seem alive with inner glimmer; uncommon details, miniature silverware, tiny gears and metal, not what I expected to see through the magnifying lens. Its internal movement overpowers the stillness, every luminescent inch, glamorous, perpetrating radiance.

“…this flair skirt is the stuff of poetry…”

Gathering, pleating, cascading, frilling, draping, folding and puckering, the exhibition teaches a surprising visual lesson in textile architecture. I had no idea that movement was so essential to a skirt’s construction, to its personality and aura. I never before contemplated how intentional is the structure of a skirt, that the fabric could fall one step behind me, like a lover scorned.

I wanted to pull the forlorn marooned skirts free from the mannequins and fans, liberate them from their captors and layer them on. Ride my girl-bike all over town, flaunting the pleats, unfolding the creases, swishing the undulating hula-hubba hips; but for that pleasure, a steep price. It should be no surprise that Prada is manufacturing only a very limited re-release of the skirts in collection (several not for re-release), ranging in price from $4 – $14k, so choose sagely, you hardcore-Prada-diehards.

And be sure to make your sacred pilgrimage to the Prada MotherShip and oogle the strutting skirts. Don’t forsake what your mama said, and stick to the classics. See the chosen skirts of fashion’s elite. Experience the Prada feeling of “being feminine in a rather unusual way” (well I never! okay, maybe).

In the end, at its essence, Waist Down funked with my perspective until I perceived the Holy Spirit residing within each womanish skirt. It was an exhaustive journey. So when next I dress, I will take pause and appreciate the simple elegance of the skirt, the way it falls across my hips, the shape it takes when I step.

I behold the Prada code of morality and swear by its ethics this oath: I will never again take for granted the ingenuity of the noble skirt!

WaistDown Exhibition open now through May 31st
Prada Epicenter
575 Broadway
(Excerpts from a constructionist’s notebook on the WAIST DOWN exhibition)

Originally published April 2006
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