Crude. Prada SS23

Finally, after two and half (fashion) weeks, a truly brilliant collection. Of course, it had to be Prada. Spring-summer 2023 might be the most sensual offerings to date coming from the creative dialogue between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. At a first glance, one might find it very simple, even straightforward. But the more you dig into the details, into its raw, yet cinematic effect, and the oddness of silhouettes and lenghts and material clashes, you realise that another word describes it better: “crude”. For the show, the Prada Fondazione was covered in black craft paper. Cut into the set walls were windows behind which short videos by the director Nicolas Winding Refn fame played: clips of a coat on a wooden dining chair, an empty kitchen, women in repose on couches. Were these scenes of domestic bliss? Knowing our protagonists, and understanding the two years we’ve all been through, that doesn’t seem likely. Instead, what Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons seemed to be after was some sort of truth – peering behind the curtain for a glimpse of reality or its close verisimilitude. “There is a sense of the life of women,” Miuccia Prada said in a statement. “Life and humanity crafts the clothes – not superficial embellishment, but traces of living, leaving marks. This idea of clothes shaped by humanity excites us.” The first look, in its corporate anonymity, seemed to belie that statement. Where’s the humanity in a dour gray top coat and lighter gray button-down onesie? But before long, the layers came undone. The boxy tailoring of that coat, for example, was replaced with an old-fashioned nightie, the familiar logo triangle embroidered on its tulle neckline. Picking up on the craft paper of the set, they used paper – “the most simple, modest material” – for dresses whose color and print didn’t quite meet the edges. These were the most thought-provoking pieces in the collection. The white outlines at necklines and hems gave the sleeveless shifts an unfinished, work-in-progress quality, like an artist made clothes out of a freshly painted canvas, rather than putting it in a frame. Clearly, Miuccia had her autumn-winter 2004 collection as the reference, where a similar technique was used for dresses and coats. Knit sweaters and skirts, meanwhile, came pre-creased in places, and the skirts’ slits were left raw-edged, with the slips underneath following the same almost ragged lines. The white nighties and peignoirs over black briefs and the icy silk duchesse dresses tapped into beloved parts of the house archives. Trained for decades to see Mrs. Prada as fashion’s fortune teller, a mostly silent arbiter with an outsized influence, we come to Prada shows eager to know how we’ll want to dress next season. On that topic, the house founder and her partner had a new idea, and it goes back to that skinny legged, stripped of all excesses all-in-one. Many designers are thinking wider and fuller for spring – the overwhelming vibe is go big or go home. But here the silhouette was tapered to the ankle and punctuated with a boxy coat or jacket and chunky cowboy boot mary janes. A new Prada uniform? In his own comments, Simons said, “more than any other collection, this one is filled with different views… different bodies of work, within a single body of work – shifting between disparate form languages.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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