What does it mean to dress like a woman now? The notion of genderization of clothes, from what is considered masculine and feminine, seems as outdated as the misogynist term once used for the white tank that was part of the first look on the Prada Fall/Winter 2022 runway. And, perhaps, that was the statement in itself of this collection— to present something so engrained with machoism and reinterpreting it, with not much less than the Prada triangle logo.
The tension extended beyond the conversation of gender (Hunter Schafer closed the show) in the collection designed by co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. The fourth season since joining forces marked a seamless blend of two masterminds that explored larger themes such as the “commemoration of life and living, the occasion of the everyday,” as noted in the post-show notes. Titled “An Ideology Of Prada,” the collection entailed practical pieces, such as the work blazer and crew neck wool sweater, and clashed it with artful, deconstructed skirts with mixed textures like crinkled silk and leather adorned with paillettes — a true Prada mash-up at its finest.
“Pragmatic pieces are given new emphasis and significance, tailoring combined with the language of evening clothes. Combinations of the quotidian and precious disturb the aesthetic vernacular of each. They simultaneously confer significance and emphasize reality, a fusion.” Looking at it in its simplest form, one could render it as a reflection of the conflicting current state of minds caught between going into the office and working from the comforts of home, in fancy Prada négligé nonetheless.
But what is clear is the power that the clothing exudes. From broad, structured shoulder leather coats to the oversized bomber jackets decorated with feathers, there was an element of taking up space, figuratively and literally. Comparable to armor, the outerwear appears as protective gear, similar in vein as the wrap-around coat from the inaugural collaboration between Prada and Simons, but an evolution to the present state; on the offense versus defense.
A further elaboration of that concept was noticeable in the traditional black coats, reimagined with strong, substantial shoulders, scooped out neck- and back-lines, and layers of beaded ball chains — a subtle nod to eroticism, as is a hallmark of the brand. Along with the set design, with plush velvet seating and dark intimate lighting, there was a sense of voyeurism looking at the undergarment-clad models, who ranged from ‘90s veteran Erin O’Connor to newly redhead Kendall Jenner, walking down the runway to Depeche Mode’s “I Feel You” and “Stripped” playing in the background.
And perhaps that is where we are now. No longer in isolation, but still coming to terms with the present, re-exploring life now and most importantly how to dress the part. There is a seismic shift occurring, and as Prada said it best, “that is, centrally, the work of fashion — the process of defining the meaning of beauty, for today.”