Prada sees virtues to preserve in digital runways

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A giant screen streams a Prada fashion live show during the women's Fall Winter 2021-22 collection, unveiled during the Fashion Week in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

MILAN – Miuccia Prada has adapted to the digital runway and isn’t ready to give up its lessons when the pandemic is over.

Prada showed her first fall-winter collaboration with Raf Simons on Thursday, the camera following models as they traverse architectural spaces of marble floors and walls clad with faux fur. It was not the usual parade of looks seen from a fixed position, but the camera allowed an intimacy with the collection and a closer look at details, suggesting repetitions to consider and new angles that might have gone unnoticed in a packed show room.

While a runway show fades with the lights on the last look, the digital presentation requires another step: Picking the details that “create an atmosphere,” Prada said in a streamed conversation after the digital show.

“Of course, we can go back to reality,” she said, referring to the post-pandemic world. “But ... this shouldn’t be lost. It was much more effort but much more interesting. Probably we will have to do both.”

Digital shows have become hard to ignore even for media accustomed to the runway bustle. Collections coming out during this second pandemic year, projecting hopes of renewed normality into the next cold weather season, by and large are as ambitious as during the pre-pandemic era, demanding attention.

The Prada-Simons collection was a layered affair, with graphic prints on body-hugging separates, faux fur wraps, sequined dresses and naïve patterned knits as inserts on dresses and jackets. Beyond the obvious suit, the straightforward jacket, there was a surprise, a rich geometric pattern peeking out or warming, furry linings. The women’s collection continued the body-hugging comfort layer of long johns from menswear, as well as leather gloves fitted with zipped pouches.

Giorgio Armani has scaled back the number of offerings, a move he discussed last April in a letter to Women’s Wear Daily, where he outlined how he thought the industry needs to slow down and rescale so customers “perceive its true importance and value.”

Armani staged a combined men’s and women’s show for Emporio Armani, which was filmed in his show room with models traversing a curved runway of upbeat colors that were splashed in the collection as accents of optimism against neutrals.