Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons have given us the perfect post-Covid wardrobe
With the easing of lockdown on the horizon, we’re all eager to slip into sequins yet reluctant to relinquish our cosy cardigans. Prada AW21 lets us have both.
Courtesy of Prada
Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, fashion’s ultimate mom-and-dad, were inspired by “the idea of change and transformation, opening possibilities” for their AW21 Prada collection. Not surprising considering that both of them are rethinking the future of Prada, together, as co-creative directors. Whereas their debut womenswear collection was all about unification of their disparate worlds — hybridising their respective archives and creating a dialogue between Raf’s graphic hoodies and Miuccia’s retro elegance — their AW21 collection is about the tension of juxtaposition and difference. “A fusion between disparate themes and intents,” as the show notes put it. “This collection explores the space that exists between conventional polar opposites — the point between simplicity and complexity, elegance and practicality, limitation and release.”
The pair are, after all, from very different backgrounds. Raf hails from the world of Antwerp counterculture, while Miuccia is the grande dame of Italian luxury. There was always bound to be a slight tension, a liminal middle ground between the two that could prove fertile. Here, it materialised (pun intended) as textural juxtapositions: nylon MA1 bombers versus luxe faux fur; pinstriped grey wool versus vividly-hued coats; cosy homebound knits versus going-out-out sequins; slinky catsuits versus ginormous coats. The collection is almost like a halfway house for when lockdown eventually eases, all of us eager to slip into our sequins yet reluctant to dispense with the comfort of our cosy knits. “The connotation of these insistent combinations is to challenge divisions between purpose and intention,” the show notes continue. “They are a tangible expression of differences brought together in one, to represent a freedom.”
Much like the AW21 menswear collection that Miuccia and Raf presented last month, the key theme was texture and tactility, made clear by the cosy cardigans, faux fur shrugs and the plethora of 70s-flavoured knitwear, resplendent with Prada’s signature ugly-chic colour combos and wallpaper graphics. But whereas the boys got lots and lots of Long Johns, these girls got thick, below-the-knee wool skirts and long, slouchy black trousers worn under disco-ball sequin coats. Black dresses were edged in knits, or layered on top of them, reiterating the notions of tactility and warmth. And ,once again, we saw the models clutching the plethora of faux fur shrugs and upcycled nylon opera coats at the chest — that signature Prada gesture that is protective and elegant in equal measure.
The parallels didn’t end there. Miuccia and Raf decided to show the collection on the same set as they did for menswear, too. Devised by Prada’s favourite starchitect Rem Koolhaas (who designed the brand’s epic Fondazione in Milan), the show took place in grand interconnecting galleries, walled floor-to-ceiling with purple shaggy faux fur, peppermint marble, pistachio resin and bubblegum-pink plaster. Plastikman’s thumping techno soundtrack played as, like last season, the girls were either manically jumping around to the beat of the music or purposefully striding across the carpeted floors in slick brogues and pinstripes. It captured the delirious, perplexing interior life we’ve all come to know during lockdown. One minute, we’re dancing around our sitting rooms in our loungewear; other times, we’re furiously pounding the pavement, protectively wrapped up. With the end of lockdown in sight, the dichotomy of sequins or cardigans may have once presented an ultimatum — but now, Prada has given us the perfect post-Covid wardrobe. Who says you can’t have it all?