PRADA SPRING 2021 READY-TO-WEAR

“It’s a beginning,” Miuccia declared when Duscher Tang from Shanghai asked, “Are you doing subtraction or addition?”

By Balthzar Malevolent

PRADA SPRING 2021 READY-TO-WEAR

Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’s new partnership is unprecedented in fashion. When it was announced last February, the industry reacted with surprise and delight. In the seven months since, nothing about it has proceeded according to formula. The coronavirus prevented the designers from setting to work on Simons’s appointed start day of April 1, which condensed the time they had to produce their debut. And ongoing regulations limiting group size and concerns about safety meant a splashy show at the Prada Fondazione was out of the question. Instead we all gathered in front of our screens today and watched a collection of 40 looks unfold on Prada.com. The usual backstage scrum afterward was replaced by “a conversation”—a sort of open-source interview in which Miuccia and Simons thoughtfully answered handpicked questions solicited on Instagram and submitted online. (IRL shows may return, but these two will never go back to reporters pressing iPhones in their faces again.)

“It’s a beginning,” Miuccia declared when Duscher Tang from Shanghai asked, “Are you doing subtraction or addition?” However, the collection that preceded the interview was indeed a distillation of the new Prada as Miuccia and Simons see it, a paring back and streamlining of excesses to get at what’s essential. The show began with a sort of new Prada uniform, the building blocks of which are long, narrow, ’90s-ish trousers; a sleeveless, tunic-length tee with the famous triangle logo supersized and implanted below the neckline; and pointy-toed slingback kitten heels in a contrasting color. “How Miuccia dresses is very often a kind of uniform one way or another, and that was direct inspiration for me for the show,” Simons said in the interview.

The collaborators both have a big thing for statement outerwear, and the many clutch coats peppered throughout the lineup in solids and florals nodded in both of their directions: The gesture looked simultaneously like Miuccia—see: any number of bow shots over the years—and like Simons’s moving swan song at Jil Sander circa 2012. Prada and Simons devotees will pore over this collection in search of references and callbacks. They were certainly there if you looked: The “ugly prints” of Prada’s era-defining spring 1996 show reemerged on hoodies and matching full skirts (another new uniform, this one tailored to our new WFH reality), while the words and graphics silk-screened on pastel satin shift dresses linked this collection with two-plus decades of Simons’s personal work. The holey turtlenecks used as layering pieces throughout were a good idea lifted from his brief Calvin Klein foray.

This was always going to be the show of the season. Two of fashion’s most respected and beloved auteurs uniting in a single mission: to reaffirm the primacy of creativity in high fashion. “At this moment, lots of creatives feel troubled, feel the fashion industry is [becoming] an industry where it might move to excluding creatives,” Simons said at their joint press conference in February. “We do believe that collaborating could reposition that aspect of the business.” But COVID-19 has changed the industry in yet new ways.

In a quote provided by the house, Miuccia explained their thinking: “In a time of incredible complexity: What matters? What is meaningful? That is a question we asked ourselves. We wanted to create something that makes sense to people, something that is useful. Everything we do should allow people to live better.” In another provided quote, Simons elaborated: “The show is about emphasizing humanity. It is about women, and everything around them supports them, showcases their characters.” Certainly as we move into 2021, creativity and pragmatism must be in balance. At the very least, the two instincts can’t be at odds with each other. In that sense, this collection is an important foundation to build upon, one with a cool sense of efficiency and the personality to make it distinctive.

Prada Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
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