Men’s – Cosmic Dandy. Prada AW22

For autumn-winter 2022, Prada “ate” (that’s how TikTok kids communicate that something is absolutely brilliant). There are two reasons why this collection, which opens the fourth season of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons‘ ever-exciting creative dialogue, is truly mind-blowing. Exactly 10 years ago, Prada invited some of her favorite actors to walk the runway, from Adrien Brody and Gary Oldman to Willem Dafoe and Tim Roth. That 2012 collection was a refined, at points ironic, take on the Old World elegance. In 2022, the brand invited a new pack of actors, with Kyle Maclachlan opening (he’s definitely Team Raf – this is the ultimate Calvin Klein 205W39NYC guy!) and Jeff Goldblum closing the show (the Prada-print-loving-Insta-Zaddy is an obvious Team Miuccia choice). All the men that were casted for the show walked out of an “A Space Odyssey“-like entrance, wearing garments that can be described with two words: “cosmic” and “dandy”. The line-up focuses mainly on investment tailoring and voluminous outerwear. Exaggerated shoulders and faux-fur patches in unexpected colours are this season’s key take-aways, and I really loved how Prada and Simons managed to make this futuristic style feel elegant (please, lets have a major comeback of elegance in menswear!). You could see how these garments elevated the movements of the models. And Goldblum looked utterly alien-chic in his long, black coat. There were also nylon boiler-suits, plenty of rubber-ish leather and a great selection of color-block turtlenecks. The Internet, as always, debates whether this collection is more Miuccia or Raf. To me, it’s a balance, which wasn’t always present in their previous creative endeavors.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Miu Angst. Miu Miu SS2

Miu Miu went hardcore Miu Miu for spring-summer 2022, and this is the best thing that could happen to us this season. There’s a strange correlation going on: the more complex and sometimes over-worked Miuccia Prada‘s main line becomes with Raf Simons, the better and desiable Miu Miu gets. Miuccia’s Paris-based label seems to be going through some sort of unapologetic renaissance. This time, the Miu Miu girl – who might equally be a mature woman – goes through a teenage angst phase. Imagine being in your mid-twenties when the pandemic hit, just about to make your debut on the corporate scene; your pressed skirt suit, ironed shirt and unwrapped nylons left abandoned in your closet for what felt like an eternity. When the world reopens and WFH is replaced with IRL, will you pull out that dusty uniform as if nothing happened? Or did something change within you? For Miuccia Prada, it’s a no-brainer. When it comes to the age groups whose formative experiences were interrupted by the lockdown period, continuing on the same track as the generations before them is no longer a given. If the seismic events of the last year-and-a-half taught young people anything, it’s to question those values, norms, and, indeed, dress codes. When the Miu Miu woman returns to the office, she’s chopping up all of those preordained rules, quite literally. Today, Prada marked her own return to the office by seating her guests in ergonomic work chairs and treating us to a back-to-work wardrobe for the post-pandemic age. Like rebellious private school kids cutting up their uniforms, she shortened the length of corporate skirts and tops – frayed edges in tow – until there was barely anything left to crop. It was as if waistlines and skirt hems – and necklines and top hems – had a magnetic attraction to one another, drawing ever closer as the show progressed. Midriffs were elongated to a degree that would have made Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera collectively blush in the early 2000s, if, of course, the very sight of those low-riding baggy trousers wouldn’t have made them faint first. In the process, miniskirts migrated into top territory and morphed into belted bandeaus, and someone came to work in just a beige bra and a matching pencil skirt, the elastic band of her underwear poking out. All this, mind you, in the fabrics of a businesswoman’s wardrobe. Prada hasn’t been doing post-show interviews this season due to Covid-19, but she did grace us with a few well-chosen words: “It’s so normal, but for me it’s so strange. Strange is not strange anymore,” she said with a shrug, and toiled on with her celebrity greetings. Certainly the new generations seem unfazed by the overt sexiness of the post-lockdown mentality. In case there are any apprehensive dressers left in this ‘new sexy’ climate, Prada did throw in some very viable new alternatives to the corporate wardrobe. Cable knit skirts with high slits worn with shirts and faded oversized knits made for a realistic take on ‘the generational suit,’ as did a stone-washed leather blouson with a matching box-pleat skirt. With Miu Miu’s angsty take on women’s business dressing, it’s exciting to see how those styling tricks trickle down to real wardrobes in near future.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

L’Amant Double. Prada SS22

The Prada spring-summer 2022 show was the first chance to see Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ work on an IRL catwalk. Their collaboration began just as the pandemic descended, and with only videos to tell the story, it could feel at times like the project was in its beta phase. Eighteen months later, with vaccines reopening the world, the brand staged two simultaneous shows, one at home in Milan and the other at Shanghai’s Bund One. At the Fondazione Prada, large LED screens were placed around the runway, and via the live feeds we could see different models striding by in the same looks. As Simons put it, it’s about connecting the world. Clothes-wise, I’ve never been so on fence with a Prada line-up, but I guess if a collection this season makes you question things, then it does the work. Collectively, people on the streets and people inside the fashion industry are embracing sexiness. There’s a diversity of opinion about what’s sexy, but generally speaking, clothes have gotten tighter, smaller, and more see-through as we begin emerging from this COVID-19 crisis. The young generations display a new kind of body positivity that can be frankly startling for older types who didn’t grow up as free. Ultimately, though, their boldness is heartening. “Seduction, Stripped Down” is the name Prada and Simons gave to the collection. In her notes, Prada said, “We thought of words like elegant – but this feels so old-fashioned. Really, it’s about a language of seduction that always leads back to the body. Using these ideas, these references to historical pieces, the collection is an investigation of what they mean today.” The historical ideas in question are the familiar tropes of womanhood, like bra cups and corsetry boning, made unconventional by how they were presented: on simple, even plain, sweaters or as details on denim coats. Duchesse satin sheaths read as almost demure until the dresses turned to reveal they were unbuttoned to the lower back, exposing peekaboo flashes of lingerie. The long evening column also got a rethink; it was sliced above the knee, but a bow in back extended to the floor. “That feels modern,” Simons stated. The hard/soft interplay of raw or distressed leather jackets and tiny duchesse satin miniskirts trailing trains counted as the collection’s most talked about details. Well, I can’t stand those trains, and I feel like they’ve polarized the entire industry. It’s not easy to redefine sexy, as we’ve seen elsewhere this week. Does this word even mean anything in fashion today? Miuccia and Raf did “sexy” in the Prada-ist “ugly chic” manner, balancing cumbersome and sleek, lace with leather, the wrapped and the untied.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – An Innocence. Prada SS22

For the first time, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons let some warmth and a sense of spontainety to their creative dialogue. The Prada man for spring-summer 2022 appears to be a slightly naive beach-boy, who wears his yellow windcheater (nothing underneath) and matching bucket-hat all day long. Which I instantly love, of course. As co-creative director Miuccia observed in a quote released shortly before the collection video: “A sense of the utopian, the ideal, of hope, positivity. To expose yourself to nature, to go to the beach – it’s freedom. It is utopian. That is really a primary need – an intellectual need, too.” This translated into a skin-heavy rendering of a reemergence that was tantamount to a rebirth. The film opened with the models negotiating a “meandering red tunnel”, ready for the world ahead, but not yet in it. Very directly we were presented with some of the key motifs of what looked like a commercially strong Prada suite: bucket hats with almond-shaped brims at the back (a bit British policeman’s helmet) with triangular logo pockets, and some with the awesome functionality of slits at the front to allow sunglasses to be slipped in them. Romper suits with turned-up short hems were presented in corporate-worker charcoal cotton or sailor-boy white, the latter printed with tattoo-ish nautical motifs including octopi, voluptuous mermaid/sirens, anchors and anchor fish. Around two minutes into the film, Prada’s boys finally hit the beach. The scenes were filmed at the south-eastern point of Sardinia, on the coast of Capo Carbonara, an area where the house is funding the reforestation of marine ecosystems. By coincidence, it is also where I’m booked to spend my summer holiday. It was in this setting that the presentation changed from formulaic runway walk into something more apparently spontaneous and free, in order to evoke an essence described by Raf Simons in his pre-show quote portfolio: “The primary feeling is one of joy. It’s almost like that memory of a child, the joy of a child going to the beach. The simplest and most honest of pleasures. In all its simpleness, it’s also something very meaningful and timeless.” Beach-ready were the floral-shorn terry hoodies, the skorts of course, the beautiful bucket bags in cracked leather and rowing stripe cotton drill, and those awesome hats. Away from the water, highlights included a biker jacket in yolk-yellow or show-set-red which felt like an unusual template here; double-waisted pants made to be worn loosely and tantalisingly adrift at the front; plenty of tailoring with (again) rolled up sleeves; and multiple full-look-izations of the skorts via teaming them with matching tank-tops. These looks seemed like summer iterations of the last-show long johns. “This collection and this show is very much about capturing that, the joy of the everyday. The notion that living your life can be a euphoric experience. Much joy can come out of something so simple: when times are complicated, we are searching for simple, direct joys. An innocence“, concluded Prada.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

SS21 Dialogues by Prada

So… this is what arrived to my mailbox last week. Super thrilled to share the Prada spring-summer 2021 “Dialogues” book featuring the BIG conversation between Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons and the global audience. Each question is actual food for thought, and one of my answers is featured on the pages of this extraordinary concept. This Prada collection is contemporary fashion history moment, and receiving this beautiful portfolio (under the creative direction of Vogue Italia’s Ferdinando Verderi) is so, so major for me.

Thank you Prada!