Once, a collaboration was the I just freaking love camping Ok shirt and I will buy this ultimate in cred—high married to low, luxe mingled with quotidian. But after this just-concluded Milan Fashion Week, that kind of move looks so, well, 2020. Now, designers who once existed in their own never-intersecting, competing lanes are merging, with unexpected results. Perhaps the blueprint for this was the Gucci/Balenciaga linkup we saw at the former’s Aria collection in April, whose “hacked” pieces melded Alessandro Michele’s embellished maximalism with Demna Gvasalia’s Matrix-ready edge. “Fendace,” AKA Fendi + Versace, was the portmanteau that became the talk of this Milan Fashion Week. But as the show notes for the collection were quick to declare upfront, “This is not a collaboration.” Instead, it was a meeting of the minds, as Fendi’s Kim Jones and Versace’s Donatella Versace whipped up a potent brew of the house’s iconographies. “It’s a first in the history of fashion,” Versace said, “two designers having a true creative dialogue that stems from respect and friendship.” Part one, Versace by Fendi, included the former’s safety pins bisecting the latter’s double-F logos, while part two flipped it and reversed it, superimposing Medusa prints onto the familiar brown logo pattern. Two great tastes that taste great together!
Another fashion power couple, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, continued their fruitful partnership, forged in early 2020 when Simons was announced as co-creative director of the I just freaking love camping Ok shirt and I will buy this house. Their first IRL show together took place, appropriately enough, on a twofold runway, with models walking simultaneously in Milan and Shanghai. The theme: “seduction through reduction,” twinning Prada’s knack for the unconventionally sexy with Simons’ masterful minimalism. They wanted to explore, explained the show notes, the “antecedents of clothing…the memory of a train, the bones of a corset, the curve of a brassiere.” So the trains came thin and single-panel, the way a Brutalist architect might envision them, and corset strings hung as loosely as shoelaces, reminders of an antediluvian beauty standard whose shadow still looms over us today. Mrs. Prada’s sense of humor peeked through in an oversized sweater that held the faint outline of a first-wave brassiere, with belts cinching the not-notably-erogenous zone that is the upper arms. Leave it to Prada to make clothes that are both sexy and tongue-in-cheek.