There's a typical runway show: dark room, long catwalk, and spotlights as models take their turn. Then, there is Prada — a tactile example of a collection extending beyond the clothes. With a low heartbeat bassline pumping in the background, models walked through rooms covered in plush pink and blue fur. Prada's Fall/Winter 2021 collection continues to outline a new era for the storied Italian label, one where the DNA of both Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons (who joined Prada as co-creative director last year) can be seen by the discerning eye.
We wanted the space to physically almost relate very much to the clothes and to the intentions we had with the collection," Simons said in a post-show discussion. "You know there is no public," added Prada. "[Y]ou can concentrate more on what you want to say and sort of create an atmosphere. I think it's more difficult to do it without people, actually. Before it was a promenade." Now, it's the chance to not only present pieces of clothing, but to create the reality in which they exist.
But, despite the challenges that come with reimagining the way the new collections are taken in, both Simons and Prada found the dexterity of thinking outside of the box to be inspiring. As with their Spring 2021 collection, the duo chose to play with the idea of 'Prada-ness,' or as the show notes state: "This collection explores the space that exists between conventional polar opposites - the point between simplicity and complexity, elegance and practicality, limitation and release, transmuted."
There are the retro prints and suiting silhouettes that have come to define the Prada woman — playful, nostalgic, and also powerful. This season in particular, the succession of three bright coats, green then blue then yellow, called to mind the brand's spirit and sharp sensibility. And as a nod to Mrs. Prada herself, once again models hugged their outerwear tight to the collarbone, a motion considered a signature of the designer. But, woven into the framework of the collection were also the signatures of Simons — a focus on futurism, architecture, and abstract interpretations on a theme. The second-skin layering, clashing color pairings, and reimagination of classics — like hybrid outerwear or multi-use knits — are reflections of his creative eye.
The brand also continued to highlight the signature triangle logo motif — splashing it across earrings, on the neck of dresses, and the arms of bomber jackets. And as for accessories, a crucial category for all of the biggest fashion houses, this season strayed away from overtly practical. Shoes were splashed with vivid prints, and simple crossbody bags were exchanged for oversized clutches and bags both in swirled, psychedelic prints and the soft furry texture that anchored much of the collection.
It's impossible today to examine a runway collection without contextualizing the current state of fashion and the world more largely. As Prada looks ahead, it is with a sense of optimism. Clothing doesn't inherently suggest visceral comfort or protection, but instead a more cerebral way of thinking about clothes.
Below, watch the video and see more of the latest collection.