Prada’s Winter 2020 collection—shown almost a year ago to the day in a sprawling showspace in the Fondazione Prada art gallery—debuted at a Milan Fashion Week unlike any other. Two days later, Northern Italy became the first major European region to experience an outbreak of COVID-19, marking the beginning of a chain of events that would see the world forced indoors for the better part of a year.
That show was history-making for a second reason. Shortly after the finale, Miuccia revealed the collection would be her last as sole creative director, sending the industry into a collective frenzy with the announcement that Raf Simons would be joining the brand as co-creative director. The newly-minted design duo unveiled their first womenswear collection to much fanfare in September. In January, their first menswear collection also proved a resounding hit. Today marked their first Fall offering.
For a design partnership that only began a year ago, the Prada/Simons era has stumbled upon an almost immediate symbiosis. Fall 2021 read like a natural extension of the menswear collection—using the same geometric-printed bodysuits, which poked out underneath pinstripe skirt suits or, for the truly bold, were worn on their own with plum leather brogues.
Simons quipped in a later Q&A—a delightful ongoing feature of the brand’s digital presentations—that the bodysuits could be worn either for yoga at home or, preferably in the near future, to the club. “Here is a feeling we all have about wanting to be in the world again,” he said. “We are in the mood for fashion. We are in the mood for sharing with other people.”
Other standout looks included the outerwear—super oversized bomber jackets with bold crimson embroidered lining, highlighter-hued oversized coats, and particularly chic faux-fur wraps, slung off the shoulder to showcase delicate embroidery on the underlay. Gloves—printed and opera-style or puffy leather designs in punchy shades of cobalt, teal, and crimson—married COVID practicality with highly Instagrammable whimsy.
Above all, the collection served as a highly compelling blueprint for what we’ll want out of fashion post-pandemic. In the aforementioned post-show Q&A—which also featured appearances from actress Hunter Schafer and filmmaker Lee Daniels (Prada created the costumes for his highly anticipated Billie Holliday biopic)—Miuccia Prada revealed she is quietly optimistic about the future. “Slowly something is mounting, some more desire and excitement,” she said. “Optimism is mounting, very much.” Looking at this collection, it’s hard to disagree with her.