By Pema Bakshi

MFW: Going Down In History At Prada Fall/Winter 2024 Show

Summoning emotions of the past, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons have a frank conversation with the world.
Prada Fall/Winter 2024 show, all images courtesy of Prada

“History tells you everything, especially in difficult moments. This is a collection shaped by history.” — Miuccia Prada

Fashion can often get a wrap for being blind to the goings on in the ‘real world’. Events like the Met Gala and Fashion Week are persistently criticised for being out of touch, and even now, scrolling on social media sees as many OOTD snaps as it does footage from war-torn settings. So how does one create clothing in times like these?

For Fall/Winter 2024, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons had their work cut out for them with this question. But in the face of political upheaval, Simons and Prada don’t run away from this dialogue; in fact, conceptually, it had a strong influence on them. This season, the power couple were taken by history—moreover, what we can learn from history.

When we think of the past, particularly moments when we weren’t around, we can look at the facts to tell us what was happening, or we can look at the artefacts that tell us how people felt about it. Memory and emotion give the past meaning, transcending time and still speaking to us. It’s why we value art, for what it tells us about a moment or a person. And just like paintings and literature, fashion also has a way of capturing emotion and imbuing a message.

First out was a black shift dress festooned in satin bows. The same look in pink and purple followed close by. While the bow has received its fair share of the limelight over the past few seasons, as Prada demonstrated, it’s the gift that keeps on giving As discourse around its trending presence has speculated, there is a purity to the humble bow, and in spangling garments with a spectrum of bow iterations, Prada seizes an innocence that we find ourselves clinging to in dire times.

Rather than put forward something experimental, the Italian house uses this collection to examine the beauty of eras past. The duo wasn’t looking to recreate a singular era or decade but brought forward a smorgasbord of references and moments of beauty throughout time that are now recontextualised.

This fragmentation was present in the multi-faceted nature of looks. Initial sightings didn’t give much away, as many ensembles featured details in the back distinct from the front. Some separates, like tweed skirts and trousers, appeared almost up-cycled—carved up and Frankensteined together with silk as if tailored exteriors were being peeled away.

“For me, [history] is connected to the lives of people,” Prada said in a statement about the collection. “It’s not about nostalgia, it’s about understanding.”

Simons echoed her words, explaining the focus on emotions.

“History is what defines our ideas of beauty today. In this moment, which is such a complicated moment, it is vital to know your history,” he said. “There is a feeling of sentiment, of emotional memory. A sense of history but an attraction to different moments in time which now feel new.”

Speaking of the past, ‘Old-School’ took on a new meaning, with coordinating sweater sets and tweed reminiscent of teachers, and varsity jackets with ‘P’ lettering and 1913 (the year of Prada’s conception) stitched onto arms. The preppy micro mini skirt matures to a more sober below-the-knee column silhouette, while jackets and coats were on the more fitted side with waists cinched ever-so-slightly.

In what’ll no doubt be an in-demand accessory, pochette-like bags, the Galleria and mini clasp clutches in snakeskin dangled from wide belt straps, suspended from elbow crooks—not just new silhouettes but a whole new way to wear them is very Prada.

Shoes varied between shin-high boots and satin pointed heels with a block heel that deviates from the kitten heels that are still being imitated en masse. We’d still lap it up if they delivered the same. A standout, though, were the ones with layered vamps, rosette-like in appearance.

The house’s attention to athleisure, particularly the designs from the ’90s and early ’00s, has become hot property on resale sites and spawned many re-editions. Closing the Fall/Winter 2024 show was a surprising ode to sportswear, with body-hugging coats in athletic fabrics and backless parkas with pockets and drawstrings that were infinitely cool and a clever throwback.

Prada’s runways are always a talking point. And as the duo note, their shows, in turn, become a conversation to have with the world, an exchange of ideas. Perhaps in re-examining these emotions that defined the past, these moments of beauty, and bringing them to us today, Prada asks us what we’ve learnt.


This story first appeared on GRAZIA International