One year from the onset of the pandemic, our lifestyle is nearly unrecognizable compared to its former frenzied state. We have witnessed hustle culture come to a grinding halt, shirked our conventional schedules in favour of an “anything goes” attitude and turned collaboration—on sourdough starters, social causes, mask mandates—into a symbol of the times.
Perhaps blessedly, the fashion world hasn’t been immune to this imposed slowdown. After years of calls to rectify the shoehorned seasonal calendar and the hamster wheel of a production schedule, designers were finally given a big (unplanned) break. The most joyful, if unforeseen, amendment? Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons—two bona fide greats in their own right—joining forces as Prada’s co-creative directors beginning with the spring/summer 2021 season. According to a verbose brand statement (is there any other kind?), Prada and Simons’ union would see “an initiation of free exchange and collaboration, a questioning of creative conventions.” Inevitably, some questions emerged: How would the partnership, inked well before the pandemic entirely shifted our sartorial priorities, fare in the current fashion landscape? Could two design juggernauts captivate an audience already entrenched in the new normal?
The answer to the latter question, it turns out, is yes. In an unprecedented season where most collections were revised, abbreviated or outright cancelled, the duo’s inaugural presentation last September—a democratically delivered virtual showing that had been pre-recorded on a retro-futuristic set—became a beacon of sureness. Even with their abridged collaboration time (another result of the pandemic), we knew we could count on cohesion, on clothes that hark back to a time that wasn’t, well, this one. But what we didn’t expect is this: From the moment the first model took centre stage on our screens, traipsing across a buttery-soft carpet against a backdrop of dandelion-yellow curtains, it was clear that the collab had spelled a new dawn for Prada—and set the tone for the fashion industry going forward.
It was uniform dressing at its finest. Nearly a dozen models sported a tunic-and-tapered-trousers combination, each only slightly different from the last—done up in black, white and the odd shade of pink or berry but always embossed with the house’s triangular logo. Deft attempts to blend Simons’ and Prada’s various signatures—his street-savvy prints on her feminine silhouettes, holey underpinnings covered up by clutch coats and, the co-ord set of the season, a graphic hoodie worn over a full pleated skirt—didn’t go unnoticed. Dozens of zoom lenses even caught teeny philosophical expressions like “thought and reason” and “rapture/suggestion”—no doubt a Simons- esque touch—printed on crisp satiny shifts plucked from Prada’s past.
Perhaps this collection’s most effective outcome was that it quelled our obsession with newness. Besides, given our current (and maybe enduring?) situ, “‘new’ is not so relevant anymore,” Prada offered during a conversation period that followed the presentation. We didn’t need “wow” from this promising pair, despite our novelty-starved brains; it turned out that pragmatic and familiar felt just as good. In some ways, this coming-out collection represented what we’ve always known for sure: that fashion, the kind that’s born of unmarred creativity and sometimes even collaboration, isn’t going anywhere.
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