“A uniform is something that makes you feel able to think. You have to feel well, so that you are able to think.” Miuccia Prada
I wrote my fashion college dissertation on uniforms so the ‘New Prada’ SS21 collection from Miuccia and Raf was right up my strada. Specifically it took its cue from Miuccia Prada’s own uniform of skirt-sweater-kitten-heels, spliced with Raf Simons’ street sensibility. So, circle skirts with slouchy sweaters, hoodies and hole-gouged tops, 90s two-pieces of shell tops and long-legged pants, and couture coats fashioned from Re-nylon (aka fabric du jour, upcycled nylon). These will delight Gen X classicists who hanker for the glory days of Helmut, Raf and Margiela.
I fully appreciated the low slingbacks. Very relevant in the anti-heels era and a relief not to be frog-marched towards an ironic Croc or pool slide. For Gen Y and Z, Raf’s graphic hoodies have the necessary clout required by the Insta-set. But the genius touch is marrying the street sporty details with the couture skills and fabrics he picked up at Dior. The ruche-sleeve hoodies and silk moiré opera coats were the perfect Raf-ccia hybrid, certain to filter south to Asos and Zara.
While Covid banjaxed the New Prada vision, postponing Raf’s start date as co-creative director and putting paid to the planned big reveal show at the Prada Fondazione, the alternative wasn’t bad. A live-stream ‘show’ had models zigzagging across a set propped with surveillance cameras and monitors, intended as a dialogue between man and machine. (Watch it here.)
To compensate for this audience-free, theatre-lite format, an additional digital component was added. A Q+A broadcast saw Raf and Miuccia take questions from their fans. I really enjoy the addition of designers explaining their motives and processes, a continuation from the men’s shows we watched in summer. It’s the equivalent of Suzy Menkes going backstage for her soundbite, but instead, everyone gets to hear the designer’s words of wisdom. (And if you’re curious about the future of the fashion critic’s role, do listen to Cathy Horyn on the subject here.)
Interestingly, according to Business of Fashion (paywall), Prada also paid certain editors and other regular show-goers to critique the show in a live Zoom-review scenario, alongside additional influencer-led output. While people love to dispute the relevance of fashion critics in a live-stream world, it seems brands still want their informed viewpoint in the room. DRG retail editor Alison Farrington agrees. “The strategy of targeting influencers and editors across multiple social media channels was both democratic and fairly thorough. A good demonstration of applied content per channel. This is a slow burn digital strategy that will gather pace in plenty of time for the SS21 selling season.”
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Prada SS21
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