If there’s one thing that Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada are determined to make the rest of the world see, it’s that there’s beauty in those things that challenge us. In the uncanny. We’ve seen it time and again from Prada. Both pre-Simons days and post his arrival as co-creative director at Prada and during his tim at his own label.
Take, for example, the set up for their Prada menswear spring summer 2024 collection: a mesh runway made from industrial steel that looked a futuristic lab or, if we wanted to get really dark, an abattoir.
But it made sense when the slime came, creating a gooey curtain between guests and the models. Ectoplasm from the ghosts of fashion shows part perhaps. Surprising, yes, but it delivered nicely the message of fluidity that both Sig.Ra Prada and Simons wanted to convey with the collection.
Water – or slime, in this case – takes on the shape of whatever is holding it. According to Simons, preparation for the collection focused on the manner in which the body is encased within clothing and how it moves.
It’s may seem somewhat incongruous then that the clothes worn by models that came out on the runway were rendered into angular figurines courtesy of distorted shoulders jutting out like architraves, accentuated by almost miraculously narrow waistlines.
Can something be fluid and architectural at the same time? It seems so, if the basis is the ability of the body to move freely within its fabric shell. Despite the edges, the rendering of fabrications made the clothing still feel soft, floating (while still allowing for its innate structure to remain intact) around the physique.
The point of departure for the collection was the basic elements of the classic shirt. Its familiar crispness was reworked into the full gamut of menswear: coats, jackets, active and sportswear. It gave additional lightness to the already featherweight wool tailoring that made up the more formal pieces.
It became playfully complex as its surface was treated with corsage adornments and fringing. It became the canvas for prints of horror illustrator HR Giger’s infamous alien that inspired a movie series. The slime suddenly making even more sense at this point. A counterpoint to the floral detailing on others that somehow remained no less sinister or cerebral in their application.
Fluid? Yes. But the collection had a sinewy nature to it. For all of Prada’s reputation as the thinking man’s brand it was definitively visceral.