In an attempt to boost Prada‘s creative stance, Creative Director and Co-owner Miuccia Prada has delivered her first collection co-authored with Raf Simons. Her famously distinctive work has a range from austere to voluptuous, while his is more singularly “cool,”
“Today, technology is a part of life — the show is a dance between a woman and technology,” Prada said in a statement to WWD post-show. “The show is about simplicity — about clothes, and about the dialogue between clothing and the body. That is echoed by a dialogue between technology and the body, technology and humanity.”
The tech-human dialogue was further highlighted by the set, designed by OMA: a large space, open curtained in ivory in a manner that would have suited an old-time couture house, with cameras and monitors suspended from the ceiling, the latter projecting the name of each girl as she walked. Further scoring the newness of the situation, each of the young models was making her first runway appearance. “We wanted to represent technology not as a foreign entity, but as an extension of a person, as a friend — as another form of humanity,” Prada said.
Though she referred to the staging, she might have been referencing as well the mood of the clothes. The aura of high-tech futurism showed Simon’s unmistakable, unwavering hand – yet at its point of convergence with “Prada-ness,” a concept addressed in answer to a question in the post-show conversation between the two designers that aired online immediately after the show. That Prada-ness, he said, “has a very specific attitude, intellect, aesthetic…you can’t really define what it is, but you feel it, it exists, it is there, it’s present.”
Simons elaborated: “I was thinking of how I have perceived Prada over 25 years, and one thing that came out instantly was uniform. A uniform gives a sense of community. In a context of reduction, the idea of a uniform is a representation of longevity. In all honesty, I have been looking at Miuccia, how she is dressed, her uniform. It is what she finds important.” Indeed, “uniform” implies reduction — a focus on fundamental elements. That came through in a tightly organized lineup.
This is an unusual arrival, since Simons is working with, rather than replacing, Miuccia Prada — perhaps all the more reason to start from a template of pared-down, highly recognizable references. The collection was built on very specific Prada references, from its spare, under-clutch-wraps separates down to its singular shoe — a pointy-toe kitten heel, sometimes in a vibrant color in contrast to the prevailing black, white and gray of the clothes.
The message delivered: Simons’ role is not to dissemble the remarkable Prada iconography, but to expand and advance it. To that end, the show opened with a parade of prominent logos, a statement from the house founder that, make no mistake, this is still Prada, and from her new collaborator, that he arrives not as wanton iconoclast but bold and fearless creative partner.
Overt signage on bags, backpacks and some shoes — fine. But does the primary customer for Prada’s ready-to-wear want a big Prada Milano triangle placed can’t-miss-it at her throat? As Prada noted, her and Simons’ goal is to enhance their customers’ lives. “In a time of incredible complexity, what matters? What is meaningful? “We wanted to create something that makes sense to people, something that is useful. Everything we do should allow people to live better.”
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