What's so Great about This Dress?

Miuccia Prada’s candy-coloured, jewelled dress has taken over fashion mags around the world

Prada's Mr Kipling dress on the catwalk. Picture / Supplied.

‘I hope it looked ironic,” said Miuccia Prada backstage after her autumn/winter 2015 show. She was speaking of the sugar-spun pastels, jewelled bows, metallic Mary-Janes, ostrich leather opera gloves and mink epaulettes that accompanied her latest princessy dress offering. Prada has made a habit of creating tongue-in-cheek collections, all rapturously received by a po-faced fashion press. But this season she excelled herself: in a spectacular show of 41 “sweet but violent” looks, the only irony was that all the fashion editors wanted to get their hands on just one particular dress.

What dress could spark such a reaction? Think pink - a Mr Kipling pink, to be precise, as well as a corresponding version in Smurf blue - and pair it with a raised waist, thin spaghetti straps, a neoprene bell shape, satin bows and crystal brooches. This winning formula has proved so popular that the dress has appeared on no fewer than three magazine covers this month - causing all kinds of blushes (and whispers of fury) among editors for whom the ultimate fashion faux pas is turn up to a party in the same outfit.

Marie Claire readers would have clocked Rita Ora wearing the pink tunic version on the July cover. The very same item then appeared on Lily Donaldson on Elle magazine’s front a month later. September issues were similarly enamoured: Katy Perry wore the spaghetti-strapped pink dress on the cover of Japanese Vogue; Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was wearing the blue iteration on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar; and the cover of British Vogue’s catwalk report supplement for the new season featured the pink. The pink dress also appeared in editorial spreads in American Vogue, Teen Vogue and W magazine, available for pre-order in store and priced at 2580 pounds.

Such coincidence has sparked rumours of a feud among fashion editors, each apparently convinced that they had been promised “an exclusive” on the dress. The New York Post’s Page Six column reported that the model Gigi Hadid had been poised to wear the pink dress on the cover of W magazine’s September issue, but the editor switched the image for one of Hadid in furry Dior upon discovering that rival magazines had also featured the dress. W denies this, claiming that the Dior look was the stronger image - but they must have been stung by being pipped to the Prada.

But what is it about this dress that it has come to define a season - and a winter season at that? According to Aurelia Donaldson, The Telegraph’s fashion editor, the Prada show heralded an aesthetic shift. “Everything has been clean, simple and understated for so long, and suddenly Prada gave us candy colours and pretty, dainty, embellished pieces. We were hungering after something decadent, rather than practical - which is why this dress captured the imagination. We’ll all be dressing in a more feminine way next season.”

Laura Weir, fashion features editor of British Vogue, and the woman who chose the pink dress for the cover of Vogue’s catwalk report supplement, agrees. “Prada can be relied upon to make us recalibrate the way we think women want to dress. This image defined the season and expressed a new, surprising or provocative mood - it had colour and energy.”

It was for these same reasons that Miranda Almond, the contributing fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar, put Huntington-Whiteley in the dress for its September issue. “It had a strong, clear and young message. It touched on the nostalgic with this underlying Sixties vibe but, as with anything in Miuccia Prada’s world, it was brought right up to date. I felt Rosie would really suit that Sixties look.”

One final thought: perhaps it’s also something to do with pink. Few colours inspire such dichotomous responses, and few can shape-shift with such dexterity. Pink can be tacky or ladylike; girly or angry; shocking or saccharine. It can be patronising or political (male prisoners in Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear pink triangles to denote homosexuality). Prada hoped hers was ironic - as one fashion critic pointed out post-show, certain shades had a whiff of rotting shrimp about them.

Maybe, though, it was more simple than that: pink is pretty. And in a dark world, who doesn’t need a little bit of that? Prepare to frost yourself in brooches and bows and embrace fashion’s new feminine mood.

— The Daily Telegraph

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