If you’re not checking out Prada menswear when you consider its womenswear offerings, you’re only getting half the story. When Prada menswear first made its debut in 1993, it had the advantage of showing first on the fashion calendar. Miuccia Prada, in all of her esteemed cleverness, often creates both menswear and womenswear collections as if they were in conversation with one another. It’s like a fashion pro life hack. If you want to know what’s coming for Prada, check out what they showed at the menswear show.
The same is true for Prada Fall/Winter 2021, which acted as an extension from what we just saw at men’s, down to repurposing the same set. Likewise, for womenswear we saw tailoring play a rigorous role in the cut and construction of garments, the vibrant graphic appeal of Magic Eye and MC Escher-seque prints, full coverage looks that smothered the hands and legs in printed gloves and tights (everyone on social media was going ga-ga for the gloves, post-show), and a gorgeous assault of outerwear finished with the new triangle logo at the nape of the neck.
The looks stepped out on beat to a pulse-racing soundtrack by Richie ‘Plastikman’ Hawtin, as models maneuvered through a cloister of rooms featuring everything from purple shag upholstery to crimson velvets. The same gesture we saw from Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ first show together – a sort of hand-clutching of double-faced wraps – bore a similar sentiment of intimacy and protection.
Longtime fans of Prada will notice that things look a lot different since Simons joined, and it has nothing to do with the tailoring. Heavy-handed styling has taken a backseat to strategically placed logos, a new calling card signaling the recherche desire of the brand. The logos were more subtle this time around, but they were still everywhere.
One thing that both Prada and Simons are ideal cohorts for is prints, as they both excel at dazzling the eye with squiggles and lines and blocks of contrasting and complimenting colors. The collection looks like Prada, distilled to its most potent essence.
After the show, audiences around the world were treated to a dialogue between Mrs. Prada and Raf Simons, as they extended their meeting of the minds to Richie Hawtin, Hunter Schaffer, Lee Daniels, Marc Jacobs, and Rem Koolhaas. Conversation is important to Mrs. Prada, as it is between menswear and womenswear, herself and her co-designer, and the house and the public. These post-show talks have become a highlight of the designer-duo Prada era, and casts them in a delightfully vulnerable light.
Joining the talk virtually, celebrated film and television director Lee Daniels summarized his response to the show, saying, “[It] felt insulated and personal. This was really a personal experience and I felt like I was on my own personal journey.” The joining rooms and the softness of the textile-appointed walls and carpet definitely added a hush of intimacy that made Daniels’ word resonate with us. Rem Koolhaas also chimed in with his assessment, saying, “Collaborations [allow] you to enter a place you’ve never been before,” pointing out the challenges and triumphs of bringing two celebrated designers together to focus on one brand. What comes of it all is a commitment to making fashion that feels innately personal, that operates as an extension of oneself. That it comes from a collaborative effort is further proof that fashion is best when reflecting a chorus of perspectives.