MANIFESTO

#63

CHANGE OF SPACE

MOTHER PRADA

2024.02.23

Text by Francesca Fontanesi

The personal is political, as Carol Hanisch said in the 1970s. The intellectual commitment of Prada and Simons passes through the bows; nostalgia and progress weave through the collection. Filigree details and cocktail dresses reinvent familiar tropes into new pieces ready to redefine once again the boundaries of the industry.

 

The first black dress takes to the runway adorned with a dozen bows. Light pink and dark purple versions of the same dress follow suit, alongside many other variations of the bow that becomes a symbol and urges embracing a hyper-femininity denigrated for too long. Included on robust tweed skirts in the front and embroidered silk in the back, giving the impression that the wearer cinches a apron over a slip, further palpating Miuccia’s eternal fascination with uniforms. There’s an abundance of dual constructions; much of the collection features a notable dichotomy between the front and back: ruffles and frills reconsider their shape and function. Business in the front, boudoir in the back. But Prada and Simons aren’t just playing with bows. There are varsity jackets with the “P” patch on the chest and Prada’s founding year, 1913, stitched on the sleeves; there are matching sweater twin sets paired with mid-calf skirts and quintessential Prada midi skirts, which might give off an air of rigid, distinguished allure if not for the skillful geometric construction at the seams. And then there are other vintage-inspired dresses with filigree details adorning the hems; models carry small bags suspended from mini-belts between their elbows and – as in any Prada show, not by chance – between their hands clasped to their chests, a retro gesture reminiscent of the Sixties. The idea of different pieces of history is made literal through fragmented garments, such as suits, whose fronts are tailored wool. While all this may seem delightfully nostalgic, the 1950s-style cocktail dresses at the end of the show, paired with coordinated gloves, are the perfect example of Prada and Simons’ ability to reinvent familiar tropes into even stronger, more identifiable, desirable contemporary pieces.

“We tackled the idea of romanticism, which perhaps at this moment is still considered a taboo, especially in fashion. The garments of this collection reveal a sense of romanticism that touches upon the values of love, and care.”

– Miuccia Prada

But there is something more behind these delicate yet indestructible pink fabrics: an aura of political commitment, appropriate for this historical century. The true essence of Prada lies in its characteristic ability to go beyond the mere status of a brand, with a unique, cutting-edge design approach, a sense of avant-garde, and a constant commitment to innovation. It blends futuristic aesthetics with timeless elegance: it’s no longer just a collection, but represents an attitude. Other elements drawn from history influence today’s stereotypical garments, such as the leather jacket, the bomber, and knitwear, changing their lines and details. The concept of fragmentation is literally reflected in the details incorporated into the garments and in the parts cut out across the body, stripped to expose the inner layers. Skirts, where silk contrasts with tailored wool, form a fabric facade alternating delicacy and vigor. The slim silhouette is softened by pronounced verticality. In turn, the gestural qualities of the feminine universe become intrinsic, with suspended bags and sunglasses echoing makeup: ways of being – but also of appearing – become structures of doing, intangible traces of human lives that take on concreteness. On the FW24 runway, traditional masculine materials are reworked to become inherently feminine; the clichés of femininity – bows, ruffles, and frills – are reconsidered, their meaning radically reassessed. Why do they persist? Why do they attract? The show raises questions and grafts answers, marking the beginning of a conversation with the world, an exchange of ideas. This instinct, this desire to communicate and express oneself, is a fundamental human impulse like touching, conveying our feelings through the clothes we wear.

The past is a tool used here to try to invent something new. Instead of an intellectual examination, this collection is an emotional reaction.

Everything from politics to fashion to art, everything we are comes from our past.

 

This FW24 embraces both the past and the future, momentarily disregarding the present. During the runway show, it’s the accessories that add the eccentric touch: feathered and velvet cloches with baseball cap peaks; Cleo bags suspended from python straps; sharp-edged sunglasses. The hat in this Prada collection is a personal expression: a headpiece that communicates something beyond the understated aesthetic of a simple baseball cap. On the catwalk, there’s a rising trend: excessively tall headpieces, crafted from materials like raffia and colorful feathers, lean towards eccentricity. Some resemble the texture of a bunch of peonies, while others (in a palette ranging from ultraviolet to gray, from brown to green) appear layered. However, classic black or navy is not absent, appearing on both technical garments and precisely tailored blazers, as well as on simple, form-fitting dresses; yet, Prada’s love for eccentric color combinations – like pairing green with pale pink, vibrant red with fuchsia, and yellow with orange – remains distinctive even in pointed-toe pumps with block heels. Feminine clichés are recontextualized. On the runway, the energies of Prada and Simons collide each time, resulting in a massive visual power struggle. If Prada represents a breath of relaxed freshness, simple even when extravagant, and based on a humorous-intellectual act, Raf Simons, on the other hand, plays with a cool seriousness, the dark and obscure. Self-professed modernists, together they reflected on memories for this season, exploring fragments of our past through the lens of beauty as a reminder of the horrors of history. Looking back, to look forward.

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Drawing inspiration from the evocative work of Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, Metropolitan Nocturnes – the new Versace Jeans Couture campaign – tells the intertwined lives of four distinct individuals. Each character navigates the interaction born from the energy of Miami and their own inner landscapes.

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Anthony Vaccarello revisits classic menswear with a contemporary twist. The suits are roomy, soft, detached from the body, often in lightweight and sheer fabrics, sometimes layered. Saint Laurent’s georgette and satin are enveloped in a shadowy color palette.

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Miu Miu delves into our individual life lexicons. The collection unfolds with a diverse array of interpretations of traditional uniforms and attire; surgeons, assistants, teachers, and waitresses parade down the runway. Miuccia Prada’s dark youth is captured in its tight proportions and contrasting hues. A futuristic prelude sets the stage, introducing viewers to the complexities of human memory.