In the latest collaboration between film and fashion, director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), made an appearance at Milan Fashion Week Thursday, when fragments from his soon-to-be-released short film made in collaboration with Miuccia Prada, were used in a multi-screen installation as part of the Italian luxury label's spring 2017 runway show.
Miuccia Prada, the De Niro of fashion
The whole set up was cinematic, with Prada's models catwalking a dramatic metal grate ramp, as repeating scenes of Russell's screen queens flickered above.
The short film, titled Past Forward, will premiere in its entirety in Los Angeles in November.
Described as a surreal dreamscape, the film captures Alison Williams in a Marilyn Monroe style blonde wig, Freida Pinto and other women, climbing escalators, talking on the telephone, and undressing. The clothes brought to mind a similar sense of voyeurism, with silk pajama style suits, slit-front skirts, bra tops and pretty sandals, all trimmed in plush marabou feathers. The designer's signature geo prints and sport detailing, her ladylike brocade coats, full skirts and fit n' flare dresses all appeared, but in a more playful, mashed up and modern way than in some past seasons.
Model walking the runway @Prada with David O Russell'https://t.co/BkagOLwgid installation in background #MFW pic.twitter.com/Di2j59vXUF
- @Booth (@Booth) September 22, 2016
Backstage after the show, the designer was mobbed by reporters. She explained that she met Russell a few years ago, and that the idea of collaborating on a film and a show was a new experience. What she and the film director have in common is that they "are discussing the same thing…what it means to be a woman here and now."
(Prada was early to the fashion film genre; for her 2008 spring collection, she produced "Trembled Blossoms," a CG-animated, fairy-in-the-Prada forest tale directed by James Lima, with concept artwork by Los Angeles-based illustrator James Jean. And the Prada-owned brand Miu Miu has made 12 films through its Women's Tales series, with such filmmakers as Zoe Cassavetes, and most recently Crystal Moselle.)
SCREEN QUEENS: Looks from Prada's spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)
For his part, Russell had nothing but praise for Miuccia's creative vision. "She reminds me of De Niro," he said. "She's pure in her spirit as an artist. Very tough but also very sensitive and not status conscious, which is a strange combination for fashion. She doesn't pay attention to the bullshit."
He said she gave him free rein to do what he wanted, and that on the runway, he was trying to create Roy Lichtenstein-style panels of action. "There's something very classic about her look that's timeless," Russell said of pal Prada. "It's like it came out of Katharine Hepburn's closet."
As for the latest experiment in film on the runway, the jury's still out on the effectiveness. I, for one, had a difficult time paying attention to the action on screen and on the runway in front of me at the same time, and I'm not sure how well they served each other. Except certainly, there was a palpable new sense of electricity around the show, which is a good thing for Prada, which is struggling with a 25 percent profit decline this year. I'm looking forward to devoting my full attention to the film when it premieres in November.
The New Supes
Elsewhere on the runways, there was star power of a different sort. The new supes, Gigi and Bella Hadid, are dominating fashion week here. Gigi made headlines this morning when she became the latest victim of the celebrity hoaxter Vitalii Sediuk, who assaulted her on the way out of the Max Mara runway show. Still, she and sis Bella managed to pull it together and walk the Fendi runway later in the day.
TROPICAL: Gigi Hadid (far left) and Bella Hadid (far right) pose with fellow models backstage at Max Mara's spring 2017 presentation. (Photo: Lorenzo Palizzolo/Getty Images)
At Max Mara, the Italian label introduced a bit of tropicalismo, with a bossa-themed range that went from leafy sport-inspired skirt suits, windbreakers and leggings, to jungle animal patterned sweaters and grass skirts. It was a lot of fun, even if it is a bit difficult to imagine some of the clothes in the wilds of the real world.
The New Labels to Know
There's been a real renaissance going on in Milan fashion the past couple of years, with new designers at the helm of Gucci (Alessandro Michele), Cavalli (Peter Dundas) and Pucci (Massimo Giorgetti) really hitting their strides.
You might recognize Giorgetti's name from designing the colorful street-chic label MGSM. On Thursday, he made an impressive showing at Pucci, now in his third season there, presenting a modern, color-soaked collection designed almost entirely in jersey.
COLOR POP: Looks from Pucci's spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)
He opened by stripping away the prints the Florentine fashion house is famous for, and showing a rainbow of monochrome looks, beginning with a sheer-and-opaque dress in the season's hottest color, yellow. Eventually, he added prints to his repertoire on swimsuits, jumpsuits, resort-ready dresses, and circle skirts worn with cropped tops, some of which had a tribal beat. And he played with the "total look," showing a dress, tote bag and sock booties in the same print. He closed with a few dresses in clashing neon colors with sheer and sequin panels. It was dynamite.
Color POP! @EmilioPucci #MFW pic.twitter.com/B36lZRAL84
- @Booth (@Booth) September 22, 2016
Jeremy Scott's Trompe L'Oeil Hot Bods
L.A.'s hometown hero Jeremy Scott closed out the day with his Moschino collection, playing off the idea of paper dolls (and "The Valley of the Dolls") with an entertaining pastiche of trompe l'oeil looks, from pulpy biker jackets and shorts, to cocktail dresses with stiff side ruffles, dramatic sleeves, and paper "tabs" left on for show.
PAPER DOLLS: Looks from the Moschino spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)
It was camp, for sure, and trompe l'oeil has certainly been done before by Moschino himself, by Scott and by countless others. But this was a clever take, and the paper jewelry and handbags in particular should be money in the bank for the Italian label.
ILLUSION: Gigi Hadid walks the Moschino spring 2017 runway. (Photo: Getty Images)
There was also something kind of amusing about seeing Scott, a designer from L.A., plastic surgery town U.S.A., using clothing to shade and perfect the body. A couple of dresses brought to mind those cheesy 'hot bikini bod' T-shirts you buy at souvenir shops in Tijuana. And one of the last looks, which served up a perfect red carpet bod, shaded and slimmed in a black slit-front trompe l'oeil gown, got me thinking he could have hit on a real fashion opportunity, especially in this time of expanding waistlines. What if instead of going under the knife, you could go under the Moschino?
ILLUSION: A model wears an illusion dress at Moschino's spring 2017 presentation. (Photo: Getty Images)