Audiences watched fashion history today, 24 September, as Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons unveiled their first Prada show as co-creative directors. Discussion about who might succeed the 71-year-old designer was put to bed in February this year when she announced that all forthcoming collections would be created with Simons.
This afternoon we saw how the fruits of their collaboration would manifest itself. The set itself comprised an empty auditorium bordered with curtains and cameras aplenty to give viewers a better view of the clothes themselves - something that was important to both Simons and Prada. Every featured model made their catwalk debut (a perfect metaphor for new beginnings if ever there was one) and each of their names featured on a visible screen.
What of the clothes? This was not a case of adding or subtracting, as the design duo said in a later interview, but rather a mix of both. The collection followed Prada's rule of thumb when it comes to design - useful clothing that will enable you to live better. Perhaps the most prevailing motif was the Prada triangle logo, which appeared on ready-to-wear, as well as jewellery and bags. A pair of witch-like kitten heels in varying shades will doubtlessly prove a bestseller next season.
The influence of both designers was clear - we were given Simons' fuss-free silhouettes and Prada's intellectual wearability. Hoodies and anoraks were worn over pleated midi skirts and kitten heels, both of which form part of Prada's own style uniform. In fact, it was the idea of uniforms that inspired the show - not just that of Miuccia's (although Simons says that he was influenced by her signature look), but the visual identity of the brand. There were no superfluous decoration or ornate additions, instead simple sleeveless tops and dresses, straight-leg trousers and outerwear made using recycled nylon. Materials such as these gave styles such as the ladylike clutch coat a sense of modernity.
Simons enlisted the help of long-term collaborator, the Belgian artist Peter de Potter, who added a graphic take to archive Prada prints, again offering new life to the label's staples.
There was a simplicity and usefulness to the collection that feels appropriate for the world we're living in. Pockets were added to ensure that these were clothes that are functional as well as chic and many pieces were classics that you might already own, but reinterpreted to feel more desirable. "New is not so relevant today," said Prada. "Fashion is about reacting to reality."
In a Q&A interview pots-show involving questions submitted by the public, Miuccia Prada highlighted the significance of meaningfully welcoming inclusivity within the fashion industry and how doing so must go beyond shallow efforts.
"I want to underline how important sustainability and inclusivity is," she said. "It’s becoming very important for companies and for each person and I think each of us should embrace it and think about it. I read somewhere that we must do the home tasks, not just declaring [an intention], but really trying to do better."
Prada and Simons first met one another in 2005 when the latter was enlisted by Miuccia's husband, Patrizio Bertelli, to helm Jil Sander, which is part of the Prada Group. Bertelli is its CEO.
"We have always been interested in each other's work... It comes naturally to work together, it’s not easier or harder," says Simons. "I feel very at ease in the situation. Decision-making is strengthened when I know Miuccia is convinced and it works the other way round."
When asked about how they define the brand's 'Prada-ness', Simons said the essence of the label was something he had been examining for years, even before he began working for Prada.
"I talk to the team and Miuccia about me being the outsider and looking at the company, watching and thinking about how I see the Prada company," he said. "How do I perceive it? For many years, 25 or more, before I even started my own brand, I have seen it as a community that has a very specific attitude, intellect and aesthetic. That specific thing you can’t define, but you feel it is and that it exists. The 'Ness' is what a brand needs."
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