Prada’s multiple perspectives
Prada provided one of the defining moments of the Milan Digital Fashion Week’s first day. In the midst of the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, creative director Miuccia Prada has focused more than ever on the Milanese label’s DNA, presenting a wonderful wardrobe consisting of timeless, impeccably simple essentials. The collection, its predominantly black, white and grey palette filtered through five different visual perspectives, revealed itself to be a varied, diverse ensemble, much more sophisticated than it appears at first glance.
Miuccia Prada, presenting her last solo work for Prada, has called on five renowned photographers and artists to showcase the label’s Spring/Summer 2021 menswear and womenswear collections: Terence Nance, Joanna Piotrowska, Martine Syms, Juergen Teller and Willy Vanderperre. Each of them captured - in a five-voice narrative entitled ‘Prada Multiple Views SS21, the show that never happened’ - a different aspect of the collection, each distinct chapter set in a different location within the Prada Foundation in Milan, as though mirroring its spectators’ individual perspectives and interpretations.
Raf Simons, who has recently joined Prada, did not contribute to this collection. His first collection, co-designed with Miuccia Prada, will be unveiled in September. However, the film's first chapter is the work of Willy Vanderperre, a photographer worshipped by Simons, who chose to take a distanced perspective.
Vanderperre lensed a group of models clad in white shirts and dark suits, their outlines blurry in the distance, the images intermittently in and out of focus. An ivory-coloured overcoat with micro-floral decorations is the only glimpse of colour in this black and white video.
The flannel suits are cut in fitted lines, with ultra-slim trousers. The classic men's overcoats feature three buttons. The girls wear flared corset dresses over leggings and strapped high heels or ballerinas, which lend them a dancer-like look. The collection’s uber-classic style edges towards the future, using stretch fabrics and innovative nylon materials. The zips featured in some suits, shirts and sweaters, add an urban vibe.
In the second chapter, German photographer Juergen Teller transported the audience down to the building’s basement. The models pop up in abrupt, starkly clear detail amidst the heating system’s tubes and sundry technical equipment, giving an industrial feel to the video, which showcases a series of clothes and accessories in Prada's signature nylon: suits, wind-breakers, trousers, dresses, formal jackets with short, ample sleeves, and flared skirts, one in particular in black, lace-trimmed fabric. They are contrasted with a series of white fleecy items, like the white tracksuit trousers matched with an immaculate white shirt and black tie, or a sweater top.
Polish artist Joanna Piotrowska, whose visual work usually focuses on interpersonal relationships, brought her camera, and the viewers’ eye, much nearer the clothes, with close-up shots of some of the details, like a pocket, a slit at the back of a jacket or the buttons of a leather wrap skirt.
In the film’s third chapter, shot in black and white, the models move against a peculiar backdrop to a rhythm set by the snapping of their fingers, as they stretch and lie down on a carpeted floor, or disappear behind a thick velvet screen. A skirt is cinched at the waist by a belt tied in a ribbon, a nylon dress is split lengthwise by a zip.
It is not before the fourth act that the film bursts with saturated colours. But are they the garments’ colours, or are they filters chosen by video-artist Martine Syms? The models pop up individually and in groups, weaving among the seats of the Prada Foundation’s small cinema, a visual chaos in the form of a collage of images from multiple interposed screens. Among the garments, some 60s-style suits in the essential graphic style beloved by Miuccia Prada, and a spate of superb sweaters and cardigans. Finally, a few pastel hues crop up in the collection.
The final chapter, filmed by US director Terence Nance, presents the collection’s sportier section, linked to the Linea Rossa line, following an imaginary, dreamlike competition taking place in the Foundation's forecourt. Sets of knitted jersey tops and biker leggings alternate with super-sporty outfits featuring sleeveless tops and micro-shorts, polos, sport shirts and windbreakers.
“The project reflects the reality of this digital presentation by Prada: seemingly divergent but again seen by many, this time in their own environments, their own time, their own worlds. This is an embracing and celebration of that multiplicity - when people cannot commune, we can establish a different type of community, united through ideas, goals, beliefs,” said Prada in the collection statement.
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