For fall 2023, many of the Prada runway models came in matching looks, ready for an impromptu game of “spot the difference.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada played with the idea of doubles at the Italian fashion house; the brand’s spring 2022 collection was presented simultaneously in Milan and Shanghai, requiring that every look be created in duplicates.
But the idea behind fall 2023 is less identical twin, more fraternal twin. Pairs of looks followed each other down the runway, with slight tweaks between the two, like the opening duo: Each featured a white skirt and a crewneck sweater, but the colors of the sweaters and the embellishments on the skirts differed. Later, two takes on a ribbed knit and high-waisted work pant walked, one in a yellow-and-lilac combo, the other mint-and-peach. (And speaking of pants: If any brand can get the fashion crowd back in a slim leg, it’s Prada. The pleated styles cropped at the ankle felt both like a callback to a more prim era in fashion and a fresh, new silhouette after several seasons dominated by wide-leg styles.)
Doubling down on ideas in this way allows each individual design choice to really shine, like the perfectly placed pockets and voluminously cut backs on a series of cape-like jackets. Each evening dress had its own train and specially placed folds and ruches, gathering the fabric away from the neckline or hitching it around the hips.
A new examination of uniform dressing has quickly becoming a theme out of Milan—we saw it with Fendi’s fall 2023 collection, too: whether the starch whites of a nurse’s uniform, the muted neutral tones of army getups or the oversized suiting of an office worker. Interestingly, bridal gowns fall under this category for Simons and Mrs. Prada, which here were turned into mini and midi skirts. “This exchange, between the notion of the everyday and occasion wear, the familiar and the exceptional, gives a different importance to both,” the show notes read.
Also key for the Prada fall 2023 collection is the concept of protection or “safekeeping.” Much of the collection, whether it was a camel blazer, a black leather overcoat, or even a puffer miniskirt, featured plenty of padding built into cocooning shapes. Even the floral motif reflects on this idea: “Flowers, tokens of affection, are simultaneously evocative of the craft of fashion, another gesture of care.”
Ultimately, with the fall 2023 collection, Simons and Mrs. Prada aimed to “reconceptualize, reconsider, and ultimately rediscover ideas of beauty”—not in the more literal sense of other fashion houses, as Mrs. Prada built her brand on the “jolie laide” aesthetic of “ugly” beauty, but in that uniquely Prada way, which no other designer has quite been able to mimic. See, for example, the shoes paired with every look on the runway: Elegant pumps decorated with a graphic take on florals and bows. Beautiful, yes—but also ever-so-slightly off-kilter.