The art of parties and beyond

Prada, Miuccia, Waist Down

TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 2006
"I remember dreaming about skirts when I was a little girl," Miuccia Prada told us at the launch party for Waist Down, an exhaustive exhibition of 100 of the circular garments she's created since she assumed the helm of the namesake company in 1988. Together, they span mini-skirts to overskirts, dirndls to pencils, flirty to sporty, matronly to mannish. If the one-time socialist—who studied political science in college and has no formal fashion training other than eighteen years steering what is arguably the world's preeminent fashion label—views skirts politically, she didn't let on when asked. Stroking a chunky necklace, she only gushed, "No, I think skirts are beautiful objects by themselves. I wanted to show them all together. I love skirts. They're like my T-shirts. I wear them as often as I can." She wasn't alone in her devotion—there was a whole lotta Prada love among the seismic turnout at the "Epicenter" store in SoHo, not counting the PETA protestors barking from a cordoned-off section of the sidewalk. Uptown socialites such as Tinsley Mortimer, Olivia Chantecaille, Lauren Davis and watch heiress Coralie Charriol Paul mingled with Hollywood heavies from Richard Gere to Lindsay Lohan. The 1500 or so other, mostly Prada-clad, revelers included Iman, Lou Reed, Jeff Koons, Michael Stipe and a suit-wearing Ellen von Unwerth, who we've never seen in a skirt. The block-long store, one of three Epicenters amid over 200 flagships worldwide, had been transformed the previous day with the garment of honor taking over nearly every nook and cranny, wall and ceiling. In one corner, a cluster of flared, frilly pieces spun solicitously on a motor, while others, constructed of ostrich or crocodile skin, invited more serious examination as they sat motionless on white pedestals along the "wave," the store's famous curved zebrawood floor. Above them were enormous runway photos of skirts blown up several times their size and suspended from the ceiling. Elsewhere, over by the luggage, skirts printed with painted scenes of Milan were displayed like tourist posters, while still other pieces had been stitched into wallpaper made of identical fabric for camouflaged effect. Nearby, a series of wall-mounted skirts that had been mechanized to move as if by legs are "actually animated by small windshield wipers that we found in Japan," explained the show's curator, Kayoko Ota, at a pre-launch tour earlier in the day. She works at AMO, the think-tank arm of OTA, Rem Koolhaas's architecture firm. Even the elevator had been converted into a display case with illuminated mannequins that revealed intricate cut-out patterns in the fabric. At 8:30, the lights dimmed and DJ Sasha (of Sasha and Digweed) started blasting clubbier music for the dancing that followed, which lasted into the wee hours, while a handful of guests ducked out, making their way to Prada's private dinner at the Carlyle. There, Tom Ford, once competition, also made an appearance—sans skirt, even though we hear he has the best legs in the biz.