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It’s interesting to note that the two strongest shows of Milan Fashion Week (so far) looked back to the mid-century. Like Prada, Raf Simons conjured up a bygone era of glamour and innovation in his collection for Jil Sander, making a very strong case for a polished, coolly calculated approach to dressing that simply doesn’t exist in this day where most women try very hard to look like they didn’t put any effort He worked in a series of elegant separates in bright paisleys followed by knit sweaters with renderings of iconic Pablo Picasso works—this in itself is noteworthy because Picasso’s estate has never allowed anything like this to be done before. The show ended as it began, with the white shirt (this time made into chic, simple wedding dresses) and the grande finale clearly worked.

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(l-r): Dolce & Gabbana, Marni and Missoni

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(l-r): D&G, Moschino and Jil Sander

Prada and Prints, what I think

The morning after the Prada show, an article appeared in The New York Times about how General Motors and the United Automobile Workers union had agreed to bring a long-dead car factory in Tennessee back to life. The news struck me because the night before, as I sat in bed emailing with a friend of mine .

There was definitely a strong sense of glory days revisited running through this collection. Most obviously, there were the retro silhouettes. And then the intricate hand embroidery on her skirts and greaser jackets, a kind of craftsmanship that is dwindling in this day of fast fashion.

On a completely different note, with so many designers doing prints this season, it’s interesting to look at how Prada approaches them. She’s been doing them forever, but they seem to become more collectible with each season. And am I wrong in thinking that they’re getting wilder too? (The stripes and bananas from ss11, the giant, bright plaids for aw11, the zooming cartoon cars for ss12, etc.) They’re a lot more in-your-face than, say, her checks and florals in fall ’03 or even her recently reissued lips, which first surfaced in fall ’02. Or maybe I’m just paying attention in a way that I didn’t before. Either way, I feel like this is a coffee table book waiting to happen.

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