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How well does the dialogue between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons work?

The limits of the dynamic fashion duo in Prada's FW21 collection

How well does the dialogue between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons work? The limits of the dynamic fashion duo in Prada's FW21 collection

Yesterday the first Prada men's fashion show co-signed by Miuccia and Raf Simons took place – a digital show animated, more than by a real storytelling, from the search for a new dimension (both physical and material and social) to restore a kind of harmony or balance with the world. A research that, however intimate it may seem, hides an underground and pulsating energy: if in fact the succession of rooms decorated with different materials and colors recalls both the closed box worlds designed by Simons in the sets of his first collection for Dior, in which the walls were entirely covered with flowers divided according to color; the music of Richie Hawtin that accompanies the 54 models and the dance steps of the same speak of a desire for dynamism and movement, subdued under the elaborate wool layering, which has been widespread in all the fashion shows of this Milan Fashion Week with their boiler room soundtracks. Given the results, however, the type of creative balance achieved by the two remains in doubt: in other words, about a year after the official announcement of Raf Simons' entry into Prada, something would have been expected that defined a new aesthetic born from the fusion of the ideas of both designers - a chemical reaction that does not seem to have occurred so far with a collection that, although very valid, speaks the two languages of its creators but does not summarize them in a single new code.

The symbol of the collection is the long john, a sort of overall tights that has been remixed this season both as a protagonist in its own right and as an element of innovative layering. A garment a little awkward, which falls fully into that category of ugly chic that Miuccia Prada has brought over the years to surreal heights, but that wants to be rather symbolic so much of an intimacy with the body, in its being a kind of membrane that covers it and protects it altogether; is a reminder of his dynamism and a kind of illusory nudity. The tactile quality of the clothes, their ability to wrap and define a body, to be literal and symbolic membrane between the body and the world are the most definitive characteristics of the items in this collection. In general, however, the feeling that remains at the end of the show is that it was Raf Simons who had the most say in the creation of the collection: the colors and materials of Miuccia's Prada-ness were the language in which Simons translated his own style. There is still too little continuity between the languages of the two designers: you can see when Raf does Raf and when Miuccia, Miuccia

This still imperfect alignment (but it is still very early to express itself, the two have very specific creative languages to reconcile them after a few months of work) is currently the main limit of the collection itself: that is, an excessive reliance on Simons' archive designs. It is normal that some stilemi act as a fil rouge between various collections signed by the same creative, but some details seemed to be taken by weight from the greatest hits of the Belgian: the sleeves of the jackets pulled over the elbow with the pattern of a secondary sleeve that appears along the arm had already been seen in raf Simons' SS21 but already present in the "vocabulary" of the designer from FW07; the oversized black and glossy coats with coin buttons recall a cross between the jackets of its FW20 and SS18 collections; oversized military bomber jackets have become his signature from the legendary FW01 collection; the knitted patterns in the lining of the coats, seen so much that in his collections for Calvin Klein and in the FW16 collection and so on. Obviously the quality of the individual designs is excellent, both the gloves with coin purse and the oversized leather bomber jackets will be sold very much – the feeling that remains, however, is that of a certain predictability and repetitiveness

On the scene of an increasingly "fast" fashion industry in its changes, plagued by difficulties of ever-new generational languages, a maison like Prada has been fully able to adopt the new digital format with a huge ease (and also thanks to the community of first-rate creatives close around Miuccia, first of which is Rem Koolhaas and the OMA studio) but, at the same time, both Raf Simons seems to have lost the pulse of his beloved sub-cultures by easing himself in a tired "rhetoric of youth" that has borne fruit and that should be left behind; and Miuccia Prada appears distant from that sentimental and high-ranking world, delicately eccentric but always refined to which the latest solo collections had accustomed us.