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.

The Look – Miu Miu Resort 2020

Remember Miu Miu‘s resort 2020 collection? And those floppy-brimmed sun hats layered over baseball caps? Assembled one on top of the other, their proportions conjured a vision of Ascot. A tweaked version of Ascot; Miuccia Prada said back then she’s never attended one. Here, the beautiful Ugbad Abdi wearing one of those in the enchanted, hydrangea-blooming secret garden…

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Honesty and Intelligence. Prada Resort 2021 + Men’s SS21

In her last solo “show”, before Raf Simons enters the role of co-creative designer in the September collection (I really, really, really can’t wait for this match to finally happen!), Miuccia Prada delivered a collection that was absolutely 100% Prada vocabulary. “As times become increasingly complex, clothes become straightforward, unostentatious, machines for living and tools for action and activity.” So said the press notes for The Show That Never Happened, which was a digitally delivered group installation of five Prada-facing films by Willy Vanderperre, Juergen Teller, Joanna Piotrowska, Martine Syms, and Terence Nance. They were all made at the Fondazione Prada, the company’s museum of contemporary art collection and the place of all Prada events. The film – which ran consecutively with the addition of a quick final walk at the end before Mrs. Prada’s usual fleeting, half-lateral bow – came to 11 minutes, the ideal duration of a live fashion show. The collection was all about pure elegance, simplicity and a sort of detox from fashion noise. Many looks were identical to Miuccia’s autumn-winter 1995 show, which forever became the image of 90s Prada. Architectural, 1950s silhouettes mixed with a touch of feminine cliché (of course, done in Prada’s ugly chic manner) for resort, and smart, business ready tailoring with a touch of nylon for men’s summer – ta-da, a collection that really got me obsessed in the last few weeks of digital presentations. The press release continued with more food for thought chez Miuccia: “I think that our job as fashion designers is to create clothes for people, that is the honesty of it. That is really the value of our job – to create beautiful, intelligent clothes. This season, we focused on that idea: It is about clothes, about giving value to pieces. The clothes are simple, but with the concept of simplicity as an antidote to useless complication. This is a moment that requires some seriousness, a moment to think and to reflect on things. What do we do, what is fashion for, what are we here for? What can fashion contribute to a community?” As Prada and her peers (plus Raf Simons, of course!) work to anticipate how change alters the specifications of taste and clothes it will be fascinating to watch the architecture of fashion change too.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Dreaming of a Party. Miu Miu Pre-Fall 2020

While pre-collections might soon become outdated thanks to Gucci’s Alessandro Michele smart move, a few look-book line-ups (photographed in pre-corona times) got recently dropped as the new season is slowly popping in stores (as if anybody actually bought anything from the spring-summer offerings…). Miu Miu‘s pre-fall 2020 foreshadows the main collection’s thread, which was about glamour and the joy of dressing up, from a young woman’s point of view. The visuals by Douglas Irvine suggests the mix of feelings a person might have before any party or wedding reception. Excitement. Anxiety. “Get the party started“. “Not going“. “Ok, fine, I’m coming!” It’s a heavy throwback to late 1960s and early 1970s, and quite possibly Miuccia Prada reflected on her own style navigation from that time. Some of the dresses – especially the prairie baby doll fits and the maxi ones with vintage-y ruffles – made you think of Batsheva and The Vampire’s Wife signature specialties. Miu Miu has them in arty patchwork pattern prints, and it seems that the label didn’t think of using pre-existing fabric leftovers for the collection. And that’s a pity, as it would really make sense in the current sustainability conversation the industry is having. The rest of the collection was quintessentially Miu Miu: so-odd-it’s-good colour clashes, knitted tights, cute embroideries and embellishments, fun faux-fur stoles. Of course, back in 2019 when that collection was being finalised, nobody had a clue that 2020 would be that crap. Yet still, I’ve got to ask this: where will she wear those dresses? Thanks god we’ve got Zoom parties…

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, look-books photos by Douglas Irvine for Miu Miu.

Lets Talk About Prada SS05!

I’m always obsessed with a Prada collection. Sometimes, I’m completely absorbed in her take on bourgeoisie and conservative dressing. Another time, I drift away in her more surreal styles. But lately, Miuccia Prada‘s spring-summer 2005 keeps popping over and over again in my mind. It’s like a scent of summer holidays, which are the perfect balance of heavenly relax and active experience of discovering. Back in the day, Miuccia acknowledged that this collection was a leap from her more demanding line-ups. “A vague idea of birds; birds of vanity, like peacocks, parrots, and swans,” was a starting point in her restless search for change, she explained. “I also wanted to move toward something more young and sporty, tall and narrow.” To bring the audience into her new reality, Prada stripped her familiar clean, boxed-in stage set down to the bare industrial walls, then projected Rem Koolhaas’ mind-scrambling collage of live news images onto them. It was a lot to take in before the show even started – but that, one suspects, was exactly Prada’s intention with the clothes, as well. There was so much going on. A rhapsody of colour, an excess of textures. But also, a different silhouette (short hemlines, worn mostly with flat sandals), a return to one of her favorite palettes (brown-ochre-rust), and as always, lots of artful eccentricity, like peacock feathers (I saw this dress at Didier Ludot vintage store in Paris and its magnificent) and knitted flowerpot hats. There was also a Jamaican dance hall vibe, with reggae on the sound system, Rasta stripes in the knitwear, and Caribbean crochet in the raffia hats and cardigan coats. And, oh, please note how relevant it is! That’s the power of Prada.

P.s. Happy Birthday, Miuccia!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Toying With Elegance. Miu Miu AW20

Miu Miu‘s autumn-winter 2020 collection didn’t entirely click for me. Maybe it was the uncomfortable looking, 1940s-inspred hair. Or the suffocating retro feeling that feels completely cut from reality. Or it’s the current, global circumstances that just don’t really match the collection’s early 20th century party girl mood. “Toying With Elegance” was the title of the line-up, an allusion to the childlike joy that comes with getting dressed to the nines. Miuccia Prada had the show opened with a charming cameo: Storm Reid, the 16-year-old actor of Euphoria fame, who wore a persimmon crushed-satin dress and tweed overcoat. The rest of the collection rotated around the idea of matching a festive dress with a big coat. Extra-long proportions lent a sense of irreverence to the sweet empire-line dresses in saccharine shades that were replete with bows and crystal embellishments. The most convincing pieces were the leg-baring little black dresses that had frothy taffeta sleeves and colorful nipped waistbands – they made you think of Miu Miu’s archival “girl”. Especially spring-summer 2008, which was all about that easy, flirty look. The rest was kind of forced.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Contrasts. Prada AW20

This season, Prada was about contrasts, which actually create an equilibrum. “We can be strong and feminine at the same time… women carry the weight now.Miuccia Prada was insistent: delicacy and frivolity are not antithetical to power. Finally somebody said that out loud, in the language of fashion. Beads, silks, fringes, the “clichés of femininity,” as she described them, accompanied pieces traditionally considered masculine. A boxy belted jacket was paired with a fringed skirt, while classic bib-front shirts were glammed up with skeins of crystals suspended from the shoulders. Basketball jerseys got a similar treatment, elongated to the knee and then accessorized with ropes of beads and sneaker-boot hybrids. For Prada-ists, this collection is a great retrospective of some of Miuccia’s big hits – especially autumn-winter 2017, autumn-winter 2015, spring-summer 2014 and autumn-winter 2009 – which were patchworked into something new. Prada’s vocabulary is so wide and distinct that there’s no wonder why she is bringing some ideas back to her work.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Anti-Heroic Masculinity. Prada AW20

Let me say what’s the point of this show,Miuccia Prada started backstage of her Prada autumn-winter 2020 men’s show: “That in the big – not ‘confusion’- but the complication of the current time between the world going wrong or going better, the discussion on sexes, on surviving or not… I thought to give an indication that the only thing that makes me calm and optimistic is to give value to work… to give value to things that matter in your life and your work. And so the creativity is mixed with technicalities, which is a little bit similar to the Secessionist period (boldly colored graphics shared  with the fabric patterns associated with Koloman Moser and other artists of the Vienna Secession) when ideas, creativity, and actual work had to be all together.” And what about the rather anti-heroic, equestrian statue, was this also about the contemporary heroism? “Not heroic, but heroes… I want to give a hope that in this casino (‘chaotic world’) if you do well your job, paired with intelligence, and with culture, then this already is something… It’s to give respect to work, to effort, to fatigue, and to what is difficult.” So here’s some forever-intelligent Prada-ism to delight in. On the set that closely resembled one of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings, Miuccia presented earnest, simple, smart and easy-in-approach clothes that are both classic and modern. Three-piece suits or mismatched tailored separates, portfolios thrust between arm and hip. Rural worker in mid-calf boots and oversized corduroy jacket. Then a more urban kind of Prada man whose clothes have technical touches and piped sport raised graphics on pocket flaps. Scientist-like rubberized coats matched with baggy pants tucked into beaten leather galvanized sole boots (plus rectangular lensed shades). Different characters, different personalities. Yet not so dramatically different clothes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Prada Delights in Milan

When in Milan, Prada, the word, the universe, takes a whole another dimension. It’s not just Miuccia Prada’s sophisticated, multi-faceted fashion, but also art. And sweets. Here you can choose between various Prada delights. Maybe the embellished red heels available at the label’s oldest flagship in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II? Or the delicious donuts filled with vanilla cream… or the pastel-pink marzipan cake from the brand-owned Marchesi 1824 patisserie on Via Monte Napoleone? Hard to resist any of that.

Prada / Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II 63-65

Marchesi 1824 / Via Monte Napoleon 9

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.