After Chinese singer Cai Xukun, pop star Dua Lipa, actress Claire Foy and many, many more made their way through the mobbed backstage post-Prada show Thursday afternoon, and Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons finished posing for photos with each of them, the designers began talking to the cluster of journalists hanging on their every word.
“What’s important to me at this moment is to value simple [work]…not only to value glamour, but the beauty of simple garments,” Prada said, hinting that everyday heroes like nurses and military personnel were the starting points for the women’s collection.
As a fashion concept, uniform dressing — as in clean, minimal and tailored — is an idea that’s already come up a lot during this season. Perhaps it’s the pendulum beginning to swing away from the Roaring ’20s (we barely knew ya) that has people wanting to buy and wear — and keep wearing — real clothes. (Or at least has designers wanting us to.) And perhaps it’s because there is an appeal to paring down to less and better in a time of digital sensory overload caused in no small part by those same influencers sitting in the Prada front row.
Nevertheless, in Prada’s case, uniform dressing is as much a part of the brand heritage as the triangle logo. The nylon-dressed utilitarian look put Miuccia on the fashion map in the minimalist 1990s, and it was ripe to reimagine it for a new generation, this time with the added couture sensibility of Simons.
In their hands, the concept sparked a stellar, item-driven collection with nods to “uniforms of people that care, caring was important,” Simons said.
If the brand has been selling a lot of Cleo bags and Chocolate loafers, it’s going to start selling a lot of clothes, too, after this collection stuffed full of neo-classic Prada wardrobing pieces.
Exhibit A: For fall 2022, Prada created the season’s statement skirt, a lingerie paneled slip. For fall 2023, the designers may have done it again with the array of white mini, pencil and circle skirts blooming with origami-like cutout flowers, 3D buds and stems and fluttering petals. Topped with slouchy, crewneck sweaters like Miuccia herself wears, and paired with pointy ballet flats decorated with folded bows, the looks were meant to blur everyday and a wedding day.
Simons called it “daily couture.” It was certainly a reason to dress up.
They may have shown us the season’s “It” trousers, too — high waisted, skinny and precision cut, with creases in front, and slits inside the ankles, worn over a pointy shoe. They looked fabulous with military shirts that are also a trend in the making, as well as color combos of pink pants and yellow sweater, or salmon pants and pale green sweater.
There were several military shirtdresses and nurse-white shirtdresses cut close to the body with epaulet, flap pocket or logo details and fishtail trains that were a gorgeous idea, even if they did trip up the models. Pointy collars buttoned into jackets or cardigans carried over from the men’s collection, as did the outerwear, which they evolved architecturally, from charming military-styled wool short capes, to boxy blazers with spongy, shiny surfaces.
The now ubiquitous down jacket was cropped and shrunken to ladylike perfection over a pencil skirt, or there was a white puffer micro miniskirt for the Aspen set. Meanwhile, the humble Army green jacket and navy toggle coat became couture-like tapered to the knee with sculpted cocoon backs.
“It’s respect for working people, for their jobs,” Prada said.
Now if only they could afford daily couture, too.