Men’s – Mystery. Prada AW21

And just like that, we’ve got the second fruit of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons‘ partnership at Prada – the autumn-winter 2021 collection for men. My first impressions are equal to the ones I had after their debut back in September: a cocktail of feelings. What hits first while watching the fashion show video is the pure mystery, something fashion has forgotten in the last couple of years. The set – a number of geometric chambers made of contrasting colours and textures – had you wonder if it reflects the indoors or outdoors. Or some sort of another dimension, maybe? The analogous sensation of contrasts (something Miuccia always loves) was delivered in the line-up: the oddest colour combinations that worked incredibly well, and clashing textures, from tactile camels and corduroys to synthetic PVC and nylons. Then, the question: who are those guys? Where are they heading to? In the post-show interview with selected students from all over the world, Simons highlighted that he and Miuccia aren’t working with themes. For them gestures, notions and the “unsaid” are much more important. And that keeps the mystery oozing from those characters, who in short video intervals are caught dancing to Plastikman’s soundtrack made specially for the show. Maybe they are raving in the post-COVID world where big gatherings are no longer remembered? As you see, the show sparks a fountain of questions (which don’t really need precise answers). For the clothes, there were some surprises, like knitted body-suits: those “long Johns”, as the designers called them, are body-hugging and “a little dangerous”. There was one take-away that felt distinctly Simons and new to Prada: the bomber jacket, a garment that’s present in Simons’ solo work since the beginning of his name-sake, Antwerp-based label. Another observation: of I course loved each of Miuccia’s men collections, but in the last couple of years there was something mature about them, very grown-up. And Simons, who’s forever youth-obsessed, balances that and invites a younger customer with some signature layered knits and outerwear. Good news: not a lot of logos this time, however, expect for the metal insignias on the patch of jackets and gloves (must-haves!). Similar to the womenswear show, which was like a tabula rasa, the men’s runway line-up featured all new models who had never appeared on a catwalk before. Some of them had home-cut, boyish bangs, just like Danny Torrance, the child character from Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic, The Shining. Who knows, maybe after alll Prada and Simons had that 1980 classic on their secret moodboard. The unsettling ambience of the show, the dramatic music, the unknown destination of the models, even some elements of the peculiar space… there might be some parallels with one of the greatest horrors in history (plus, we’ve seen Raf referring spooky film classics at Calvin Klein!). Summing up: Prada and Simons are warming up, and I’m sure with every season their dialogue will unfold even more intrigue.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look(s) – Prada SS21

I knew I would end up being obsessed with the new Prada, co-designed by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. The nylon wrap-coats from the show (which we’ve all seen live-streamed from Milan back in September), with utilitarian, triangle-shaped pocket on the back, yet draped and cut in a lady-like, statuesque silhouette, are the definition of contemporary elegance and a sharp exercise in refinement.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Festive Stay-At-Home. Miu Miu Resort 2021

Miu Miu‘s resort 2021 line-up has little to do with the main collection‘s 90’s-inspired girl and sporty influences, but it’s equally charming with its chic kookiness and beautiful, diverse casting. Miuccia Prada delivers a sense of festiveness combined with stay-at-home uniform. A black satin blazer is worn with sweatpants, while a full-skirted prom dress looks easy with a chunky pull-over. As the look book’s images prove well enough, it’s an offering full of delightfully mismatched concoctions of vintage-y frocks, glam eveningwear and seductive lingerie. The overall effect is sensuality tinged with irreverence, and a certain cheeky nonchalance is all over the collection. The Miu Miu woman is a master of artsy self-representation, reconciling clashing pieces into unconventional-enough, yet well-put-together looks. She apparently knows how to balance what’s off-kilter – which sounds exactly what we should all be trying to do now, playing around with clothes you’ve already got in your wardrobe… and eventual Christmas shopping frenzy which is around the corner.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Girl. Miu Miu SS21

Is Miu Miu the “old Prada” now? After Miuccia Prada‘s first Prada collection with Raf Simons, which left the audience polarised, this seems to be a good idea for Miu Miu. But them, this was a quintessentially Miu Miu outing – really, the spring-summer 2021 collection is one of the best in a while coming from the brand. Livestreamed from Milan during the last day of Paris Fashion Week, the show set imagined a cyber-spacious sports arena covered in screens with the – also livestreamed – faces of Miu Miu poster girls watching the show, including Elle Fanning, Chloé Sevigny (one of the checked tops was the original piece she wore in the brand’s ad campaign shot by Juergen Teller!), Małgorzata Szumowska, Susie Lau and other Miu faces. Opened by Lila Moss, the collection captured the accidental uniforms of young people. It’s a wardrobe suspended between the extremes of the hyper-casual and that stilted sense of formality you get from a prom photo. “Polarity. These are polar times,” as Prada said in a statement after the show. “The reason why people dress is sometimes to please, sometimes to be sexy, sometimes to be socially relevant, sometimes for a job. The way you present yourself – the clothes are important because they define you in a second. Clothes are a tool for that message,” she continued. “The first spectator of yourself is you.” The Miu Miu show read like the Euphoria generation’s guide to effortless dressing: the things you wear through the process of learning the messages Prada wanted to convey about the role of clothes in life. Prim and pristine low-riding track pants, sharp track jackets, micro skirts, and kitten-heeled tennis shoes embodied the dress codes of sports activities. Sporty blazers, little bowling jackets, neat shirts, and plaid skirts evoked school uniforms. Conceived in the teenage dreams of perfect party outfits, there were techno-fied halter-neck shell tops and oscillating techy dresses. Then, some dream prom scenarios as well, like a white dress with a draped bow on the back that curtained dramatically to the side to reveal its pink lining. Prada’s show notes talked about the institution of the fashion show as a unifying event – something she wanted to convey through her livestreamed experience. Carried by the young women on her runway, that sentiment reminded some of us of the time we fell in love with fashion shows in the first place; in our teenage bedroom, chunky laptop at hand, waiting for the first runway pictures from our favorite shows to come in.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Beginning. Prada SS21

Prada by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. Even the way this sentence looks and sounds feels fascinating and so out-of-this-world. The most exciting moment of the season happened yesterday afternoon in form of a livestreamed video and an insightful Q&A afterwards. The fashion industry hasn’t been through such anticipation for years, maybe decades. We all had some other-worldy expectations of what these two innovators would bring to that table. And maybe that was the mistake, for us, the Miuccia & Raf fandom. To be really, really honest: I expected to be wow-ed, utterly surprised, provoked, have some polarised “love it” or “hate it” kind of feelings. But my first impressions of the collections were actually mild. The line-up, presented in one of Fondazione Prada‘s spaces (that shade of yellow, which was chosen for the curtains and the carpet, is the new Pantone colour of 2021, I’m sure), was simple, easy, encylopedic. A sort of Chapter 0, a work-in-progress. In the interview, Miuccia noted that they both had big delays caused by the coronavirus, which is understandable. Maybe they decided to keep the debut quiet and without a fuss. As both designers concluded, it’s the beginning. While at the moment it feels rather like a resort Prada collection styled by Simons (over-sized printed hoodies, slim turtlenecks, all his signature traces are here) my excitement for what’s to come is getting even more intense. But more about the spring-summer 2021 collection. Part of it feels very commerce-wise – say, the exaggerated triangle Prada logos (in a close-up, they are distorted and made out of a sort of satin rosettes), voluminous sweatshirts, youthful prints and conceptual word-plays. Then some of it is all about the lady-like, couture-esque notion – especially the clutch coats, which are a sort of Miuccia trademark that had its big come-back for resort, or the spleated skirts that create an elegant and very refined silhouette. The last “episode” was about the Prada codes: black nylon (I know it sells, but the brand pushes it too much for the last couple of years) and ugly-chic prints (this part was also forced as for me). The show even began with a sort of old-new Prada uniform, the building blocks of which are long, narrow, ’90s-ish trousers; a sleeveless, tunic-length tee with the triangle logo; and pointy-toed slingback kitten heels in a contrasting colour. “How Miuccia dresses is very often a kind of uniform one way or another, and that was direct inspiration for me for the show,” Simons said in the interview. So, as we can see, it’s the start of a dialogue, which will hopefully flourish into something much more powerful. In a quote provided by the house, Miuccia explained their thinking: “In a time of incredible complexity: what matters? what is meaningful? That is a question we asked ourselves. We wanted to create something that makes sense to people, something that is useful. Everything we do should allow people to live better.” In another provided quote, Simons elaborated: “The show is about emphasizing humanity. It is about women, and everything around them supports them, showcases their characters.”  Balance of creativity and pragmatism, something that probably is the best approach under current circumstances.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.