Will It Make Sense? Prada AW22

As Russia is invading Ukraine and Europe is at the brink of war, it’s really hard to look at the latest Milan Fashion Week collections. Suddenly, fashion’s frivolity feels ignorant and insensitive, and the smiley street-style faces make you wonder if there are two parallel realities existing simultaneously. Still, one can’t blame Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons for staging a fashion show yesterday, as if nothing wrong was going on the other side of the continent. How could they know that on the same day, Putin would commit a war crime? The situation is getting more and more turbulent with every hour, and as brands in Milan do business as usual (even though at least some symbolic gestures of solidarity would be more than welcomed and appreciated), who knows if this isn’t the last fashion month for a long time to come. Trying to stay hopeful, but I’m really terrified of what might happen next.

I wish the circumstances wouldn’t make this Prada line-up feel somehow unfortunate and badly timed. The collection is beautiful, yet will it make any sense in the near future? The designers’ offering started with a fitted white tank, triangular logo front-and-center, with a narrow just-below-the-knee skirt divided horizontally in different combinations. Kaia Gerber’s show-opener merged gray flannel, crushed black satin, and a crystal-dusted metallic mesh, but others were sheer to the waist, exposing the boy briefs that the models wore underneath. These pieces formed a foundation on top of which Prada and Simons showed simple Shetland wool sweaters and others that revived the label’s breakout “ugly” prints of the ’90s; mannish single-breasted jackets and double-breasted ones decorated on the upper arms with rings of faux fur or feathers; and oversized MA1s picked out with paillettes. Again, there was that emphasis on unlikely combinations, and the sense of import that kind of intentionality creates: making an occasion out of the everyday. “You want to live again, to be inspired. And to learn from the lives of people,” Prada said in a statement that was distributed after the show. The silhouette didn’t reach the extremes of the men’s collection last month, but the proportions – of black coat dresses draped with askew pearl necklaces, of leather trenches in black and shocking pink – were exaggerated. The shapes conveyed strength, not the decorum or daintiness that the lingerie foundation underneath might suggest. That message was underlined by the cast, which included models who walked Prada runways 20 years ago – Erin O’Connor, Liya Kebede, Elise Crombez, and Hannelore Knuts – amidst new faces like Euphoria‘s Hunter Schafer. As has become their practice, Prada and Simons were looking back at past Prada collections, embracing the Prada-ness. “I think of revolutionary moments in Prada’s history, and we echo them here,” Simons said in his statement. “There are never direct recreations, but there is a reflection of something you know, a language of Prada.” Scrolling through the archive to find the reference isn’t the point, though fashion obsessives will have lots to work with here. More interesting is how together they made something sort of implausible – like, say, a herringbone coat with that proportion-shifting acid green faux fur treatment on the sleeves – look intriguing.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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