Image Credit: Prada
“Fashion is about the lives of people”-Miuccia Prada
9 months after Raf Simons’ appointment as Miuccia Prada’s co-creative director, the duo showcased their first menswear collection. Titled “Possible Feelings’, the FW21 collection was live-streamed for Milan’s Digital Fashion Week.
The show took place in four empty but connected rooms, decorated with faux fur, marble, resin and plaster. Each room created an environment that brought forward an emotional response to the viewer. The models darted from room to room, carried by the loud, omnipresent beat of the music. The aesthetics had a real ‘Raf’ ambience to it, tense, with the viewer unable to pull away, reminiscent of his FW 13/14 couture and FW 14/15 womenswear shows at Christian Dior, or his own FW 18/19 menswear show.
Raf Simons’ recognisable style was brought out in full force for the show. Many menswear fans have long awaited for Simons’ return to a major brand since his sudden departure from Calvin Klein in late 2018. The collection was inspired by Simon’s own love of all things counter-culture, with a focus on the abstract as well as past Prada collections.
The ‘Raf Simons’ aesthetic was clearly felt throughout the collection, from his odd-fitting knits to his recognizable oversized bomber jackets, originally made famous in his FW 2001 ‘Riot Riot Riot’ collection. This time Simons’ bomber jacket was remade in bold coloured leathers. However, Raf is never one to hog the limelight and there were clear influences from Prada’s past designs. Many of Miuccia’s past concepts were given a 2021 makeover, particularly in the outerwear category.
The collection emphasised patterned long johns which were matched with a cacophony of fabrics and designs including Jacquard knits, bright overcoats and double-breasted leather trenches. Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons are never ones to shy away from ostentatious colour combinations and this show certainly proved that. Some may describe it as awkward, while others would see it as abstract, yet not many designers ever do it as exquisitely as Miuccia Prada or Raf Simons.
One of the surprises from the show was the return of the Prada logo button, making a comeback since their first appearance in the FW 89/90 show. This was unexpected as Miuccia Prada has been vocal about her dislike of the logo-forward design to the press, due to her preference on subtle luxury rather than loud branding.
For those looking for something new and something very “Prada”, the collection did not disappoint. The pouched gloves, emblazoned with the Prada triangle, though impractical if you want to reach for something in your pockets, were a big hit among fashion insiders and on social media. The triangle logo, which has been given a new lease on life in the past few years, was ever-present in almost all of the menswear collection, with a more artistic play on the logo seen on the back of outerwear pieces and knitted into the neck of garments.
The show ended with a Q&A, where students were able to converse with the two designers. Previously, these Q&A’s had been reserved exclusively for the media, however, due to the current climate and the digitalisation of shows, it was made accessible to the public. When asked about the long johns, Miuccia Prada answered: “it was a uniform in the show but [the long john] definitely is not a uniform.” When discussing the collection, Simons said: “I think more than ever we very much felt like how we can express that in clothes, in the environment in which we are going to present the clothes”. There was an endearing moment between the designers as Miuccia talked about the “possibility to change my (one’s) mind”. This was in reference to her lifelong hatred of pinstripes, but Simons convinced her to include them in the show, saying “this show is full of pinstripes, and they love it, they want more pinstripes!”
The show has not been met without criticism though. Instagram page Diet Prada said that the collection was overly focused on Raf Simons’ past styles. They wrote “Part of the beauty of Prada is never knowing what to expect, yet this felt like exactly what you’d expect from Simons. We’re not left with new ideas to ponder, but more of a scavenger hunt for Raf concepts we’ve seen time and time again… oversized outerwear, oversized or shrunken knits, bad haircuts etc.” However, we argue that Prada’s first menswear show in partnership with Simons was not meant to re-invent the fashion wheel. Instead, it was there to set the precedent for collections to come.
Watch the full show and Q&A below: