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What We Learned From Revisiting Pre-Millenial Prada

Then-Prada vs. Now-Prada

Fashion is one of those things where the past is not something you leave behind. It’s a huge sentimental softie that finds itself constantly looking back as it moves forward. (Why am I picturing a kindergartener vis-à-vis a pubescent teenager?) Alber Elbaz says that fashion, like a piece of fruit – oh, you and your food references, you! – is about today. But, you see, the stuff of today borrows, in varying degrees, from yesterday. Take for example the recent comeback of the choker and the minimal slip from the 1990s and 2000s, or the ever-present “New Look” at Dior, or the 1970s influence on Alessandro Michele’s Gucci. It’s a constant back-and-forth. Fashion is impressionable, and the past is a heavy influence.

Just the other day while waiting for an appointment at the local Prada office, I found myself scrutinising a framed image on the wall. It was a massive collage of teeny-tiny runway images from Prada in the 1990s (the scrutinising was more literal than figurative). I then realised that pre-millennial Prada was rather foreign to me. What else did I know apart from those black nylon bags? Not much. When Vogue.com released the Kraken that was unobstructed access to its Prada archives, I took it as a sign to get schooled.

Turns out, Miuccia Prada once had a minimalist streak. It’s a surprising thing to realise when you consider how far from minimalism Prada is today. Take that white chemise on Kate Moss from Spring 1994, for example, and place it next to the print and embroidery-heavy looks of Fall 2016 – they’re as different as chalk and cheese. And that’s not a bad thing. Not at all. It makes you realise that as much as they have signatures, designers, too, evolve. Freshness guaranteed. Yet, at the same time, so many of the pre-millennial looks – we’ve compiled 25 above for your easy perusal because we like you – still make sense today: slip dresses, white shirts with exaggerated sleeves, military jackets, fit-and-flare trousers, so on and so forth. (FYI, Miuccia Prada made some seriously swanky military jackets for Fall 2016, just sayin’.) People wanted them then, people still want them now. Going forward, looking back.

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