Prada Spring/Summer 2021 Courtesy of Prada

An emotional co-creation project

Raf Simons’ first outing as co-creative director of Prada, alongside Miuccia Prada. Here, some takeaways from the presentation and post-show discussion – from how they looked at uniforms to their advice for aspiring designers

1. The Show Considered Our Relationship With Technology

The Spring/Summer 2021 collection – the first designed by Raf and Miuccia as co-creative directors – was made entirely after lockdown; in fact, in the post-show discussion, Miuccia revealed that Raf had begun his tenure later than planned, due to travel restrictions. “The process behind the collection was, inevitably, shaped by these necessary restrictions: fashion as both reflection of and reaction to the time in which it is invented,” read the collection notes. Speaking afterwards Miuccia said that while in lockdown she had become interested with our relationship to technology, “how it’s impactful … a kind of extension of ourselves”, an idea which no doubt informed the yellow-curtained set, whereby looming “chandeliers” of cameras captured the models in motion, while screens flashed up with model’s names. The numerous cameras also allowed the kind of 360-degree view not possible at a fashion show – something both Raf and Miuccia said was exciting about undertaking a digital show such as this. “It was an excuse to enjoy and see the clothes better, which is really important for the two of us,” said Miuccia.

2. Raf Found Inspiration in Miuccia’s Own Uniform

The idea of uniform – as one of the submitted questions pointed out – has long informed the work of both designers and it once again came to the fore here, though in a more theoretical sense: “A requisite component of uniform is simplicity: recognition, reducing clothing to an essence, to the essential,” read the collection notes. “Not army uniform, police uniform, but true metaphorical ones,” Raf elaborated. “The whole first part of the show was about that.” Cue a series of lean, just-flared trousers worn with clean-lined tunic tops in various colours, all stamped with a blown-up version of the house’s triangular logo (most often found as a metal tag on their handbags and rucksacks) and in various colours, as well as prim flared skirts and cut-out sweaters. Raf also admitted that since his arrival much of the inspiration for the collection came from the way Miuccia herself dresses; her changing daily uniform. “I go from one uniform to another … I love the idea of uniform,” she laughed. At the moment? A white pleated skirt and navy sweater, which she wore in the post-show briefing. Raf’s own, he said, was a shirt and black Prada pants: “Not just because I work here … [I’ve been wearing them for] ten years or more.”

3. Prada Has Always Been One of Raf’s Favourite Brands

On that note, Raf also admitted that he has been a fan of Prada for “25 years, maybe even more” – a time period that predates his own career in fashion. “I’ve always seen it as a community that has a very specific attitude, intellect, aesthetic,” he answered when asked ‘What is the Prada-ness?’ – though admitted that there was something indefinable about it too. “You can’t really answer what it is, but it is, it exists, it’s present, it’s clearly there,” he said, adding that this was the reason he loves the brand. “I am very specific, and I like a very little amount of brands and that is what a brand needs to have for me to love it.” As for the experience of working as co-creative director of Prada, he said: “it never really occurred to me that this could possibly happen”.

4. Raf Brought in an Old Collaborator, Peter De Potter

Simons has long worked with artist and fellow Belgian Peter De Potter – for a decade De Potter was tasked with adding slogans and graphics to Simons’ designs for his eponymous label. For his Prada debut, the pair collaborated once again, adding some definite Raf-isms throughout the collection. Art by De Potter appeared printed on garments from hoodies to skirts – some were printed on colourful archival Prada prints from S/S96 – in the form of rallying words in block text or sprawling black graphics.

5. They Had Some Advice for Young Designers

Perhaps the most heartwarming submission came from a ten-year-old aspiring fashion designer called Ilaria from Pennington, who asked Raf and Miuccia what advice they’d recommend to keep her on her path. “Then is my moment to say study, study, study,” Mrs Prada replied with a laugh. “Learn. Watch movies, watch [sic] art, read literature and learn that a piece of clothing serves the role of making you live better … It’s not an abstract job … It has to be useful and help define your personality … ”

BONUS: They Revealed Their Morning Routines

One question in the post-show interview asked what the designers drink at the start of their days. Both designers were quick to reveal their morning routines: Miuccia cited advice from her mother and explained that she drinks hot water in the mornings – “my mother told me, first hot water and after, breakfast – apparently it’s very healthy” – while Raf shared that he drinks coffee, “and then for the rest of the day, Coke Zero”. “That’s really bad,” he laughed.

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