Zadie Smith wears Prada well
Miuccia Prada. We love her. She seems to be the only designer who can flout conventionally pretty attire and yet somehow still be entirely commercially marketable. We adore her quirky color palette, the zany curvature of her heels which have become her trademark along with her low-slung slouchy disproportionate silhouettes—an architectural anomaly that still manages to flatter the female form. It is part of the juxtaposed appeal of Prada, a world where eccentricities do not diminish the fact of being bona-fide power-player of an adult.
But perhaps more than her ability to successfully transgress the rules of fashion and principles of design we have internalized and observe elsewhere, we love Miuccia for making fashion substantive, even though she openly laments having chosen fashion over something more consequential and important like politics.
Yet inconsequential is not a characteristic we would assign to Prada. In her world, fashion isn’t everything, and yes on it’s own, it can be quite superfluous. But when the right fashion is paired with the right person, the dress itself proves to be a product of one's creativity, an aspect of the personal terrain for which one is responsible and an extension of an ambitious and free-thinking mind.
Enter Zadie Smith, clad in Prada at the 2019 New York Cruise show. I caught a glimpse of this photo of her in The New York Times posed in the foreground of an industrial garage door and swooned. In the image, she embodies a mix of high and low with her signature all-natural, no-makeup face which plays sharply against an ultra feminine, waisted, tea-length floral dress and eye-catching yellow block heels (or were they wedges?).
That Zadie Smith is still identifiable as Zadie Smith is an interesting facet of Prada’s clothes. There are designers who are so heavy handed that the brand’s ethos overtakes the wearer in question. For example, Dakota Fanning is inseparable from the Mulleavy sisters. It’s difficult to envision Ms. Fanning in any place other than frolicking through fields of wheat, or in magical abandoned houses head-to-toe in Rodarte, however unrealistic it is. Saint Laurent and Alexander Wang are worse, still. Their clothing, to me, is synonymous with the ubiquitous party girl, one among many taking pleasure loitering on the stairs of Equinox-Soho, one veritable scenster after another who like vampires, thrives on an after party.
Prada’s patrons, like her clothing, are more idiosyncratic than that. In this particular image, Zadie Smith seems to exude that the clothing isn't everything- she is after all, a writer by trade. But one cannot help but notice that dressing, at least in this instance, is another activity she does exceedingly well in her protean life as as mother, wife, as revered writer, as British citizen as New York City denizen. She resists being defined by the clothes but instead momentarily appropriates the pieces as her own and in that vein, who can deny that Zadie Smith wears Prada well.