"Clothes are an expression of your ideas, your personality. The clothes are [simply] at the service of your life," Miuccia Prada said minutes after her era-defining first co-designed menswear show with Raf Simons for Prada. When Simons first made his collaborative Prada debut for the house's womenswear Spring/Summer 2021 collection in September, critics were convinced, this would become one of fashion's most powerful unions in name and in practice. The only question left to ask was how Simons and Prada would translate their vision into menswear. Today we got our answer: Raf.
While their first co-designed collection struck a smart balance between Pradaness and Rafness, for the second edition of their supernova partnership, Miuccia seemingly let Raf take the reins. And Raf did what Raf does best. Attitude.
Livestreamed from Milan, the show was set in a futuristic abstract place – sound familiar? – with furry walls and carpets, the models dancing and strutting in slim fit suits felt very 60s mod even down to the ridiculous hair cuts – and boy, we know Raf loves his subcultures. The bomber jackets – a Raf signature – were an exciting reference to a time he made us all converts.
The iconic triangle Prada logo which so obsessively adorned every item in the women's lineup last season has now become more of an abstract referenced in triangle-shaped cutouts and knits. But Pradaphiles still got their hit in the accessories department. And it is here that Raf's singularly "cool" fused spectacularly with Prada's reserved execution. Just take our favorite item for example – can we talk about those gloves? Prada and Simons' menswear presentation invigorated one of the Covid-era's favorite accessories with a nifty little pouch that surely already has fast fashion brands in over-drive trying to recreate the glove-purse.
On top of the collection being smart, modern, and very now, it doesn't feel overthought. Prada isn't trying to do Raf and Raf isn't trying to be Prada. Instead, each look tells us of a marriage between emotion and intellect, the sophisticated and the utilitarian. Even the collection's commercial viability feels like a lucky coincidence.
"One of the most difficult questions someone asks me is who I design for," Raf noted in the post-show Q&A. "At one point I think it becomes a completely different thing. Obviously, you design for an audience (a person) but it's also very disconnected one way or another. Therefore I find it more and more difficult to define our one audience. It's not one audience. It's for anyone that's interested or connected."
"I don't have that problem," Miuccia Prada countered. "I've never thought about 'who is my clientele' I do what I think, what makes sense, and whoever buys it can do whatever they want. I never judge people from the way they dress, believe it or not. After I sell it, it's not my object anymore and people can do with it whatever you want. The more I'm open to the world and the more open I'm to reality, the more [what I do] the more it makes sense to people."
With the range of emotions this successful menswear debut sparked, the title, "Possible Feelings," feels tentative. Fortunately, the clothes surpassed our expectations. Our mom and dad of fashion made us proud.