Reinterpreting Classics. Miu Miu SS23

Miuccia Prada, with a Miu Miu show on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, proved that she knows where she’s going – comparing to other designers and brands, big and small, who in majority presented some of the mildest and direction-less collections in years. Even though Miu Miu orbits around a similar theme for the third season in a row, it’s refreshing to see Prada’s “sister” brand in such assertive and distinct mode. Those mini-skirts are still going strong, just like leathers in various shades of browns and beiges. Corporate tailoring continues to be aggressively cut-up and raw. But there are a couple of novelties that will definitely become the next Miu best-sellers (and are both easy styling tips as well as vintage shopping inspirations). A gray cap-sleeved T-shirt worn over a beige jumper worn over a gray long-sleeved T-shirt worn over a white T-shirt, they were all very ordinary garments, but certainly delivered a mood. And styled this way, they didn’t look so normal at all. “I’m very serious but also fun. I am both,” Miuccia said backstage of the show. That duality was reflected in this line-up. She showed some clothes so simple they weren’t clothes at all: primitively cut fabrics fixed to the body with fastenings, like an apron skirt tied at the hip or pieces of nylon fashioned into ponchos, dresses and skirts with drawstrings. Strands of nylon were tied around the lower hip of pleated skirts with drawstrings and worn like cummerbunds, and a bandeau top held together by a nylon strap with a plastic clip buckle seemed to have been repurposed from the performance wardrobe. Miu Miu is on a roll, delivering a kind of fashion that resonates with the sexy, subversive, product-focused tastes of the digital generations – even through a simplified lens. Prada framed her show in fittingly odd projections by Chinese artist Shuang Li, who had sharks bouncing off planets and walls, and a soundtrack featuring a spoken-word love poem by the same artist. If there was an upbeat mood in the room, it came from above. “I went through a really… friends died and so on,” Prada said. “Recently, I’m in a good mood, for personal happenings for my friends.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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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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Men’s – Choice. Prada SS23

Whenever Prada delivers a collection focused solely on all-time classics, it’s clear that some sort of recession is coming. If shopping for new clothes, no fashion-statement impulses – only rational choices. Investment pieces that will become a wardrobe staple: that’s exactly what Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons‘ spring-summer 2023 menswear collection is about. First, we’ve got reasonable suiting. It came black, skinny in the pant and cropped at the top of cowboy boots. Jackets were single or 1.5-breasted, cut slim and low. Then up popped eternal leather: frisson-making black double-zip short-shorts worn against sleeveless tops and coats. Shortly afterwards the shorts came accented with a series of striped rib knits. Next up were some leather-edged back-buttoned shirts in shopping bag checks, with craftily naïf ric-rac trims that echoed Prada’s pyramid cipher. There was a brief section of attractive washed denim. The shorts underpinned the looks. And of course, the coats – some in beige, some in naive gingham (a Miuccia classic, think autumn-winter 2013). The models were sometimes double-coated, sometimes single. According to the brand’s release, “choice” is the keyword behind the line-up. Said Mrs. Prada in her pre-quote: “So much that is the base is really a conceptual choice – a coat, jeans, a suit. They appear simple but are the result of a process, of choice – there are hundreds of coats, why is this the right one? It is a combination of a long process of design and decision, and then of instinct. It is a matter of style.” Adjacent on the page Simons was reported as saying: “The garments are classic, but their mix contradicts, making them exciting and new. There is leather against the body, then cotton on top – there’s a kind of anti-logic to the combination of the clothes, an oddness.” Kinky, corporate, normcore and craft – the ingredients in this menswear minestrone of a Prada collection looked pretty weird on the menu, but tasted fresh when seen on the flesh.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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