Miuccia Prada’s February 2020 announcement that she would be bringing Raf Simons on board as Prada’s co-creative director went through the fashion week crowd like an electric shock. Those lucky few in the audience for autumn winter ‘21 realised they’d just witnessed a moment in fashion history: the last collection Miuccia designed solo. But soon after Covid-19 took hold of northern Italy and then the rest of the world, and the fruits of Miuccia and Raf’s shared creative labours were destined to be unveiled digitally. The pair showcased four collections—two womenswear, two menswear, all impeccable—via livestream, but the fashion world was still awaiting Prada’s grand return to the runway. Fashion of their scale and magnitude needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, and so today’s show was always going to be a history-making spectacle.
And a spectacle it was. Rather than stage a single runway show, Prada and Simons opted to show two simultaneously: one in Prada’s Milan headquarters, the Fondazione Prada, and the other in Shanghai at the Bund One. At the former, large-scale screens live-streamed the Shanghai show as models took to the runway. “Doing these shows simultaneously demonstrates a new possibility,” Simons wrote in the show notes. “Community is a vital idea: drawing together people who share ideologies, values, and beliefs.”
The clothes were equally ambitious: a radical new definition of ‘sexy’ dressing for the new era. ‘Seduction, Stripped Down’, was the name of the collection, which took the bones of traditionally sexy clothing—corseting, brassieres—and twisted them on their heads. Satin gowns were slashed super short, but with a trailing train left attached. Oversized leather jackets were worn with nothing underneath. Shirts and jackets were affixed with corset-style boning, chunky sweaters affixed with bralette detailing. Dresses that looked demure would reveal themselves to be fully unbuttoned at the back. There was nary a knee-length hemline in sight.
The collection felt palpably, viscerally modern. A new generation of designers—among them Nensi Dojaka, Supriya Lele, and Michaela Stark—are touching a cultural nerve with their slinky, unapologetically sexy pieces. After 18 months spent indoors, it’s natural that our appetite for sensuality has been awakened. Soon—God willing—full international travel will resume and with it the promise of thumping dance floors, midnight dinners, chance encounters with mysterious strangers. When that time comes we won’t be reaching for sensible trousers and baggy knits. In an ideal world, we’ll be wearing head-to-toe Prada.