Parading the power of women

Parading the power of women
People look at a mural by artist Diego Rivera at the Art Institute of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan December 3, 2013.

Mural art, which has developed into popular street art today, can be a powerful platform for reaching out to the public and a potent form of political expression. Keith Haring and Banksy come to mind, but one of the most prominent artists of the 20th century best known for his mural work about social struggles and liberation movements by the Mexican people is Diego Rivera.

The influential painter was an innovator in expressing his ideals by unifying art and politics.

Inspired by Rivera, Italian maverick designer Miuccia Prada, who is a feminist at heart and holds a doctorate in political science, expresses her ideals with unifying art, politics and fashion by engaging four international muralists (Miles 'El Mac' Gregor, Mesa, Gabriel Specter and Stinkfish) plus two illustrators (Jeanne Detallante and Pierre Mornet from France) to create a backdrop addressing the themes of 'femininity, power and multiplicity' on the walls of the Via Fogazzaro show space for a spectacular presentation of her Spring Summer 2014 women's collection.

"We need to be fighters in general. There is this debate about women again, and I want to interpret it. My instrument is fashion. I use my instrument to be bold," explained Prada.

According to the show notes, "each picture depicts a different image of femininity. The women on the walls represent the multiplicity of guises that women assume in the course of a day, a lifetime."

The result was an astonishing streetscape of different giant faces that painted a colourful and energetic mood with Brooklyn-based artist, Gabriel Specter composing a portrait of a weeping girl surrounded by rainbows alongside French illustrator Jeanne Detallante's pop-art fashion illustrations of women and beauty masks of the world, while streams of tropical colours and leaves run across a shaded yellow face by Colombian artist Stinkfish on another wall.

"I think what made it so powerful for Prada and for everyone is that these are everyday examples of normal people. I'm interpreting the power inside of all women and channelling it through people I know and people I'm close to," explained Specter.

Seeing these outstanding artwork was too good to resist, Prada then transcended the street art aesthetic beyond the walls of the show space onto her Spring Summer 2014 collection where the stunning imagery of the mural portraits were replicated on clothes and handbags.

Faces like Detallante's blonde-hair woman can be found gazing from the centre of a simple shift dress or structured handbag while Specter's rainbow-covered face adorn a bejewelled dress and Stinkfish's shaded face colouring up furry coats.

"I had this idea that if you wear clothes so exaggerated and out there, people will look, and then they will listen," said Prada in a backstage interview.

Just like the way the artists applied layers of colour and texture to their mural portraits, Prada wades into her colourful expression of feminism by featuring the sturdy bra as outerwear on top of the printed faces on shift dresses or decked out in beading on others and accessorising the models with street-inspired styling in tube football-sock leggings and rubber-soled platform sandals.

Sporty accents like striped ribbed-knit edges or necklines emphasised the feeling of team-women spirit while chunky cuff bracelets in colourful saffiano leather with clustered jewels highlight the strong, dynamic character of the Prada woman.

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