Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons channeled youthful instinct this season, pairing archival garments in unexpected ways

Choice was the key word in Prada’s Spring/Summer 2023 menswear show. The runway was staged in a makeshift ‘house,’ rendered by rolls of white paper, hung from the ceiling and unfurled to meet the also-paper floor. Squares were cut out to approximate windows, and red gingham curtains served as décor. The runway was the dollhouse and the models were the dolls.

That’s where the element of choice comes in: Along with the youthfulness of the constructed setting, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ looks evoked the improvisatory act of playing dress-up: suits paired with pointed cowboy boots, leather short-shorts with matching trench coats, colorfully-striped sweaters in otherwise all-black ensembles, denim-on-denim, and plenty of checked prints to match the drapes. “The garments are classic, but their mix contradicts, making them exciting and new,” Simons said of the collection. “There is leather against the body, then cotton on top—there’s a kind of anti-logic to the combination of the clothes, an oddness.”

It’s this oddness that creates impact, which in turn creates style. “There are hundreds of coats, why is this the right one?” asked Mrs. Prada herself. “It is a combination of a long process of design and decision, and then of instinct.”