Before taking a look at the Prada spring/summer 2014, you might want to bone up a bit on your knowledge of contemporary artists. Specifically: El Mac, Mesa, Gabriel Specter, Stinkfish, Jeanne Detallante and Pierre Mornet. These are the artists who painted the immense murals occupying the space for today’s show. The concept of the murals was to create images evoking the multiplicity of women’s lives. The images are stark, provocative, and at times appropriately unsettling.

Miuccia Prada then takes the faces of those images and transfers them to the prints on dresses, jackets, and purses encompassing this collection. The effect is stark. The aesthetic one that will inevitably be copied and modified again and again.

Oh, but she’s not done. The line wouldn’t be mind bending if Miuccia stopped with just the paintings. Remember that whole thing Madonna had in the 80s with wearing her bra outside her clothes? Well, Prada brings that back, but instead of frilly lace we get bras encrusted with chunky crystals. At first, the bras come over the garments. Then, they’re sewn into the garments. Then she applies a touch of trompe l’oeil with the colorful shape of bra motifs printed onto the bodices of different pieces.

Along the way, those chunky crystals play all over skirts and tops. Athletic sock leg warmers came with every ensemble. Wedge heels with rubber toes mimicked sports shoes. Simple silhouettes included pleated skirts, and A-line bustier styles with a single pocket on the front. The color palette was dusty, more autumnal than spring, but with rainbows slashed across the back of many pieces.

Some are already calling this Prada collection a game changer. Vogue calls this the kind of collection that makes one want to empty their closet and start over. Without question, Muiccia Prada has given us something astonishing.

However, could she be asking too much of her audience? To put it bluntly, are the clothes too smart for Prada shoppers? Granted, some people will purchase pieces from this collection simply for the label, but if the line fails to produce economically, will it still be hailed as genius?

Let me put this another way. Wear one of these ensembles to an event in the Midwest, and it would have to be an event because these certainly are not the clothes one wears to the grocery, and one is likely to spend the evening explaining that, yes, this is a Prada original, and no, you did not tack on the crystals yourself with a glue gun, and yes, you knew the bra was on the outside. The questions might be flattering for the first fifteen minutes or so, but by the end of the evening you may be wishing you had purchased something that didn’t require quite so much effort.

What Miuccia Prada has done with this collection may well be a stake in fashion’s time line. I just hope the world is able to appreciate her effort.

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