Prada’s Cruise 2019 house party

At a time in New York’s so­cial cal­en­dar when the glit­terati de­scend on the city, Prada made a sar­to­ri­ally savvy move – they had their Cruise 2019 show

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Last month’s an­nual Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art Cos­tume In­sti­tute Gala brought many things to New York – the Kar­dashi­ans, at­ten­tion, a wind­fall to florists and makeup artists the city over – but this year it also brought some­thing else: the Prada Cruise 2019 show.

It was only last year that Mi­uc­cia Prada joined the rel­a­tively small group of brands (Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuit­ton, Gucci) that hold be­tween-sea­son run­way ex­trav­a­gan­zas in far-flung cities of their choice. But for her sopho­more out­ing, Prada de­cided to take ad­van­tage of the pres­ence of pretty much ev­ery­one she could ever want in her au­di­ence all need­ing to be in the same place at the same time — plus the fact that she had to be there her­self any­way to host a ta­ble at the gala – to un­veil her col­lec­tion in New York.

Smart, right? It was like a pre-party for the party. A mini gala in Prada mode. A Pradala. But that’s kind of her thing (the smarts). If Maria Grazia Chi­uri at Dior has po­si­tioned her­self as the fem­i­nist’s cre­ative di­rec­tor, Prada has al­ways been the think­ing woman’s de­signer – treated back­stage like some sort of po­lit­i­cal philoso­pher queen of the in­dus­try, mobs of jour­nal­ists hang­ing on her every mus­ing, es­teemed guests whis­per­ing hosan­nas in her ear.

So this time around she in­vited ev­ery­one into the equiv­a­lent of her New York home: the cav­ernous old pi­ano fac­tory in the Far West 50s that serves as Prada HQ, where one floor had been turned into a con­crete cat­walk de­signed by the ar­chi­tec­ture firm Her­zog and De Meu­ron, which re­designed the build­ing when Prada bought it.

The win­dows were lined with sheets of translu­cent red and blue acrylic, trans­form­ing the city be­low into a piece of pop art, and the run­way was lined with a mashup of starry names, in­clud­ing the film di­rec­tor Ava Du-Ver­nay; the ac­tresses Sarah Paul­son and Chloë Se­vi­gny; the de­sign­ers Raf Si­mons and Marc Ja­cobs; Jes­sica Mor­gan, di­rec­tor of the Dia Art Foun­da­tion; and Sheena Wagstaff of the Met’s new mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art de­part­ment. Kate and Laura Mul­leavy of Ro­darte, wear­ing match­ing dresses in dif­fer­ent colours, said it was only the sec­ond fash­ion show they had ever at­tended that wasn’t their own (the first was Chanel).

The abil­ity to mix un­ex­pected in­gre­di­ents into a com­pelling whole is some­thing of a Prada sig­na­ture, and it was as true for the col­lec­tion as it was for the au­di­ence: Long, nar­row silk chif­fon skirts were belted at the hips un­der plain black T-shirt sweaters; polo shirts paired with ruf­fled leather miniskirts or trans­formed into em­pire-waist gowns; bro­cade trouser suits were com­bined with knit Sev­en­ties tees. And all of it was jig­gered up with be­jew­eled thigh­highs, Bake­lite logo neck­laces, clunky square-heeled loafers, and enor­mous bro­cade ushanka hats – a lit­tle bit geeky, a lit­tle bit ath­leisure, a lit­tle bit soignée; al­to­gether cool. In other words, clas­sic Prada with a con­tem­po­rary edge.

“It’s like my fan­tasy of re­al­ity,” Prada said af­ter­ward, which sums it up pretty well.

There was as much Prada be­ing mod­eled by the guests as by the ac­tual mod­els, part of the point of the Cruise shindigs, sug­gest­ing that the clothes are not as hard to wear as they some­times ini­tially ap­pear. The ac­tresses Tracee El­lis Ross and Lily Collins were in neon traf­fic-cone dresses from the Fe­bru­ary fall col­lec­tion, the for­mer a hot pink strap­less syn­thetic plas­tic bub­ble; the lat­ter a span­gled Wat­teau tea dress un­der a high­lighter or­ange bustier. “When my mother saw it, she said, ‘At least no car will miss you when you are cross­ing the street,'” Lily had said to a friend in the el­e­va­tor. Prada sat on a bench chat­ting with guests while cock­tails were served. “I love the hats!” said the ac­tor Ansel El­gort, kneel­ing be­fore her. The hats, Prada said, were in­spired by a trip to Rus­sia that one of her sons – a philoso­pher/race car driver – had taken. It was sug­gested that this was a pretty pointed choice of head­gear to pick for a show in New York when the whole is­sue of Rus­sia, and Rus­sian in­flu­ence on the last US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, had been much in the news. Had Prada, who took part in po­lit­i­cal demon­stra­tions while wear­ing Yves Saint Lau­rent, thought about that?

Prada laughed and waved her hand in dis­missal. Then she stood, and was swal­lowed up by the chat­ter­ing mob.

Top:Chloë Se­vi­gny­in­full flo­ral­sattheshow. Be­low:Film­maker AvaDuVer­nay at­tend­s­thePrada Re­sort2019

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