the latest collaboration between film and fashion, director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), made an appearance at Milan Fashion Week Thursday, when fragments from his soon-to-be-released short film made in collaboration with Miuccia Prada, were used in a multi-screen installation as part of the Italian luxury label’s spring 2017 runway show.

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Miuccia Prada, the De Niro of fashion

The whole set up was cinematic, with Prada's models catwalking a dramatic metal grate ramp, as repeating scenes of Russell’s screen queens flickered above.

The short film, titled Past Forward, will premiere in its entirety in Los Angeles in November.

Described as a surreal dreamscape, the film captures Alison Williams in a Marilyn Monroe style blonde wig, Freida Pinto and other women, climbing escalators, talking on the telephone, and undressing. The clothes brought to mind a similar sense of voyeurism, with silk pajama style suits, slit-front skirts, bra tops and pretty sandals, all trimmed in plush marabou feathers. The designer’s signature geo prints and sport detailing, her ladylike brocade coats, full skirts and fit n' flare cheap prom dresses uk all appeared, but in a more playful, mashed up and modern way than in some past seasons.

Backstage after the show, the designer was mobbed by reporters. She explained that she met Russell a few years ago, and that the idea of collaborating on a film and a show was a new experience. What she and the film director have in common is that they “are discussing the same thing…what it means to be a woman here and now.”

(Prada was early to the fashion film genre; for her 2008 spring collection, she produced "Trembled Blossoms," a CG-animated, fairy-in-the-Prada forest tale directed by James Lima, with concept artwork by Los Angeles-based illustrator James Jean. And the Prada-owned brand Miu Miu has made 12 films through its Women’s Tales series, with such filmmakers as Zoe Cassavetes, and most recently Crystal Moselle.)

For his part, Russell had nothing but praise for Miuccia’s creative vision. “She reminds me of De Niro,” he said. “She’s pure in her spirit as an artist. Very tough but also very sensitive and not status conscious, which is a strange combination for fashion. She doesn’t pay attention to the bullshit.”

He said she gave him free rein to do what he wanted, and that on the runway, he was trying to create Roy Lichtenstein-style panels of action. “There’s something very classic about her look that’s timeless,” Russell said of pal Prada. “It’s like it came out of Katharine Hepburn’s closet.”

As for the latest experiment in film on the runway, the jury’s still out on the effectiveness. I, for one, had a difficult time paying attention to the action on screen and on the runway in front of me at the same time, and I’m not sure how well they served each other. Except certainly, there was a palpable new sense of electricity around the show, which is a good thing for Prada, which is struggling with a 25 percent profit decline this year. I’m looking forward to devoting my full attention to the film when it premieres in November.

Elsewhere on the runways, there was star power of a different sort. The new supes, Gigi and Bella Hadid, are dominating fashion week here. Gigi made headlines this morning when she became the latest victim of the celebrity hoaxter Vitalii Sediuk, who assaulted her on the way out of the Max Mara runway show. Still, she and sis Bella managed to pull it together and walk the Fendi runway later in the day.

At Max Mara, the Italian label introduced a bit of tropicalismo, with a bossa-themed range that went from leafy sport-inspired skirt suits, windbreakers and leggings, to jungle animal patterned sweaters and grass skirts. It was a lot of fun, even if it is a bit difficult to imagine some of the clothes in the wilds of the real world.

The New Labels to Know

There’s been a real renaissance going on in Milan fashion the past couple of years, with new designers at the helm of Gucci (Alessandro Michele), Cavalli (Peter Dundas) and Pucci (Massimo Giorgetti) really hitting their strides.

You might recognize Giorgetti’s name from designing the colorful street-chic label MGSM. On Thursday, he made an impressive showing at Pucci, now in his third season there, presenting a modern, color-soaked collection designed almost entirely in jersey.

He opened by stripping away the prints the Florentine fashion house is famous for, and showing a rainbow of monochrome looks, beginning with a sheer-and-opaque dress in the season’s hottest color, yellow. Eventually, he added prints to his repertoire on swimsuits, jumpsuits, resort-ready dresses, and circle skirts worn with cropped tops, some of which had a tribal beat. And he played with the “total look,” showing a dress, tote bag and sock booties in the same print. He closed with a few dresses in clashing neon colors with sheer and sequin panels. It was dynamite.

L.A.’s hometown hero Jeremy Scott closed out the day with his Moschino collection, playing off the idea of paper dolls (and "The Valley of the Dolls") with an entertaining pastiche of trompe l’oeil looks, from pulpy biker jackets and shorts, to cocktail cheap evening dresses with stiff side ruffles, dramatic sleeves, and paper “tabs” left on for show.

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