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September 29, 2020

Prada SS21 Womenswear: A Collection of Dialogues

The Spring/Summer 2021 Prada womenswear show is, by its very nature, a dialogue.

As the debut collection by co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, the collection represents a creative conversation in progress, comprising the first example of myriad possibilities.

This season, in a time when the mediation between technology and humanity has become a vital element in bringing us together even as we are apart, inspiration is drawn from this inherently contemporary and inevitable fusion. The process behind the collection was, inevitably, shaped by these necessary restrictions: fashion as both reflection of and reaction to the time in which it is invented. On a deeper level, technology’s indispensable presence within not only life but daily action has led to a different dialogue between ourselves and information: today, technology is a part of humanity itself.

The collection explores the notion of uniform, touching on multiple different interpretations of that concept - a uniform of Prada, of a community, a visual representation of identity, of shared and embraced values, a way of thinking. Clothes are pared back, refined, focussed, without superfluous decoration: shell tops, straight pants, overcoats in industrial re-nylon, constructed using couture techniques, suits executed in fleece.

Garments are drawn around the body, held by the hand. It is an innately human gesture that can be transformative, translated into the architecture of pieces, to cut and form language. Artworks created by Peter De Potter, a long-term collaborator of Raf Simons, explore ideas of thought and process - returning, again, to the relationship between information, technology and humankind, but also, more widely, of thought itself as firstly an inner monologue, and then an outer dialogue: another exchange of ideas. They are used to interrupt and disrupt the uniform surfaces of clothes, graphic tools of contrast that are sometimes laid over archival Prada print, emblematic of a meeting of worlds and aesthetic discourses.

A requisite component of uniform is simplicity: recognition, reducing clothing to an essence, to the essential. The wrap, a precise rectangle of fabric, is a logical outcome of this mode of exploration of reduction, a symbol representative of the collection’s overall considerations. Suggested in the different fabrications that comprise the collection (t-shirt jersey, fleece, re-nylon, embroidered duchesse satin, chiné taffeta), its intention can transform, speaking of protection or decoration, utility or adornment. Simple acts have deeper meaning: the translation of garments into different materials change our reading, transforming the pragmatic to the sophisticated, and vice versa. The addition of pockets to pieces is a practical act, but in that practicality, it speaks of living and life, of the usefulness of clothes in a dialogue with the human body.

Duality and plurality has always been inherent in the language of Prada, juxtaposing different elements, approaches, and disciplines to find a paradoxical harmony in dichotomy. The physical environment of this virtual fashion show, conceived by OMA/AMO, is a personal, intimate space, largely tactile. Technology appears as chandeliers of monitors and cameras, wherein decoration and utility are combined, and are animated in a dynamic ballet with figures that pass through. The soundtrack, composed for the show by Plastikman, British-Canadian electronic musician Richie Hawtin, includes the names of every woman modelling in the show: an entirely new cast who have never walked a runway show previously. For all of them, this marks a debut.

Exploring a conversation between humankind and machine, the notion of instinct and logic emerges. Though they are diametric opposites, the two nevertheless form a foundational dialogue to creativity. Both are quintessentially Prada - a consideration of the world, and a natural reaction to that stimulus. Another paradoxical discourse, reflecting reality.

Fascinated by Prada? Read more: Prada and Sotheby's Join Forces for Women's Education.

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