Miuccia Prada and RAF Simons really show that they do not have to try so hard
It is hard to achieve the balance between accessible and sophisticated. Harder still to place intellectual and sexy side by side. And even more so to temper conventional dressmaking with creative tweaks that could be construed as finishing oversight. Prada has found that harmony. Even in the co-working of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. There is not just balance between the two of the world’s most forward practitioners of their craft; there is synergy too. And admirable—and appreciable as well—is how easy both make their output appear. Nothing is ever over. ’Effortless ease’ may sound like a phrase Boomers use, but it is germane to what Prada has achieved and continues to be.
Ms Prada said in a statement that, in this collection, there is the attempt to free the garments of “unnecessary complication”. She added, “the clothes are about simplicity, with no unnecessary complication.” While they are indeed simple (has Prada ever been otherwise?), the designers did not take the edge off the clothes. After what was seen in New York and London, Prada’s simplicity is the proverbial breath of fresh air. Or, petrichor, that welcome smell after a rain. If one could put a aromatic note to Prada’s collections, that is it. But, have we not caught a whiff of this before? This almost-nothingness has been discerned in the air of Prada’s runway (does it smell like CDG’s Zero?) before in the Prada Fondazione. Ms Prada told The Cut in 2019 that the Resort 2020 collection was “all about simplicity” (!) and that “simplicity is a provocation; simplicity is rebellion.”
However often Prada reprises their simplicity or exercises their restraint, they would not leave a line that straight. The clothes this time are supposed to reveal the life spent in them, but not in conspicuous ways, underscoring the fan belief that with Prada, there’s always more than meets the eye, to the extent that only a close examination of the selected pieces in the store satisfies even the feeblest curiosity. This season’s creased bust-dart on slip dresses, warped slits of skirts, ragged neckline of cardigans, crinkles on suits, random pinching on the waists of short dresses, the snagged necklines and sagged hemlines of shifts—they begged a visit to the boutiques for their close-up. And one item too deserves in-person view: those long johns with shirt collars and cuffs. Are they the answer to this season’s underclothes-no-more singlets?
Since its womenswear debut in 1988, Prada has been the consistently talked about label following each showing during Milan Fashion Week, even when ordinarily the brand hardly draws a queue at their stores (certainly not here). Ms Prada told The New York Times back in 2013, “I hope they don’t just buy because there is a logo, but because the object is relevant to them.” In fashion weeks increasingly overflowing with meretricious clothes, Prada’s hyper-fuss-free pieces are honest, relatable, and definitely relevant. Even when sheerness is employed as part of the brand’s fascination with opacity, contrasts, and textures, it comes, as it does now, without the evocation of the sleazy. Simply put, Prada just can’t serve anything visually rude. And therein, for many, lies their strength and enduring influence.
Screen shot (top) and photos: Prada