The unprecedented creative partnership between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons is a huge talking point in the luxury fashion world. Following the Prada Autumn/Winter 21 menswear show on January 17, Rose Elizabeth Dodd reports on how it’s going.
The union between Italian fashion powerhouses Miuccia Prada, 72, and Belgian luxury menswear designer Raf Simons, 53, in the co-creative direction of Prada has taken the fashion world by storm. The partnership, announced at a press conference in Milan last February, is the first of its kind for both Prada and the industry. It’s the fashion equivalent of tech giants Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk joining forces.
The duo debuted their first Spring/Summer 21 womenswear collection, “Dialogues”, in September, its name emphasising the importance of duality and conversation to both Prada and Simons. On Sunday, we saw their long-awaited Autumn/Winter 21 menswear collection, “Possible Feelings”.
Until now, Miuccia Prada has not been one to collaborate. Prada’s output has ridden solely on the unique visions of Mrs Prada, whom has singlehandedly pioneered the brand’s success since she took the reins from family in the 70s.
Sought from outside the Prada bloodline, Raf Simons of the eponymous brand and alum to Christian Dior, Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, was recruited in pursuit of Prada’s creative evolution. The partnership took place in a climate where “fashion business has stopped exploring its own possibilities”, as Simons put it after the announcement last February.
Much like Prada, Simons is a forward-thinker, making the duo the ultimate hybrid for anticipation, innovation and creative direction. “It’s a new wind,” Miuccia Prada said, when the news broke.
“Possible Feelings” was tactile and comfortable, intimate and sensual, featuring elements of both Prada and Simons throughout, from fabrics and fits to the techno music.
An absolute must-have for the colder seasons was the logo pocketed leather gloves in vibrant shades of colour, contrasting with the divine oversized waxy-looking bomber jackets that they were styled with.
People in geometrically patterned long johns, danced intermittently as models walked alone through the indefinite space in practical tailored blazers with rolled up sleeves – isolated, protected, lonely – longing for the freedom to move with others once again. Digitally furry walls, thick carpets and undefined spaces created a cosy yet claustrophobic atmosphere, reminding us of our lockdown environments.
The show was a sophisticated multisensory response to the world’s digital shift, subtly encapsulating the mood of today. This is distinctive of Prada; often making delicate nuances about the socio-political state of the period a collection speaks for. Simons shares such skill.
Prada and Simons have their similarities, but one wonders how two such independent, steely and omniscient fashion thinkers co-operate. In the post-show discussion, Central Saint Martins’ fashion journalist Rosie Davenport asked the duo how they resolve disagreements. “We don’t have so many, but if we really hate something, we don’t do it,” Prada said. Simons added: “We are both constantly discussing, communicating, having conversations about our ideas”.
Miuccia Prada stressed her openness to new possibilities, giving the example of the collection’s heavily featured pinstripes, “All my life I hated pinstripe, and this show is full of pinstripe”. A mutual respect emanates between the powerful duo, as they redefine creative direction.
Title courtesy of Roger Tredre, CSM MA FJ professor. This piece was written as a set assignment for CSM MAFJ course.