As the fashion world continues to reel from the news that Belgian designer Raf Simons will join the Pradasphere come April, there’s also a lot of talk as to what the joint designs of two of fashion’s most influential figureheads might look like. Simons – who has previously lent his vision to the likes of Jil Sander, Dior and Calvin Klein – joins Miuccia Prada as co-creative director of the Italian luxury house.
According to an official statement released by Prada, Simons will have “equal responsibilities for creative input and decision making”. Adding that the partnership was “born from a deep reciprocal respect”, the statement brings to mind the significant and often overlapping relationship between the two designers.
While Miuccia Prada has remained a purveyor of “ugly chic” over the last four decades, the Italian designer, who inherited her grandfather’s leather goods company, first introduced this sensibility to the rest of the world with her Spring/Summer ’96 collection. Prada’s display of chunky low sandals, oversized silhouettes, shapeless frocks and challenging colour combinations played an integral part in changing the way women dressed. Needless to say, Prada’s penchant for true, personal style – negating the need to dress for others – has been a mainstay in the fashion world ever since.
Simons, on the other hand, boasts a unique fanbase of his own. Having started his career as a menswear designer in Antwerp, he then moved on to his first womenswear stint at Jil Sander in 2005. He has since become known for being a true designer-of-the-moment – from his all-encompassing approach to design (Simons cites art and music as major influences) to his ever-constant push for subversion and progression.
So what might we expect from such a collaboration? Here’s a look at Prada’s and Simons’ latest works as an indication of where they might be headed as a joint force.
A Refresh In Tailoring?
For her last solo showing at Prada’s Fall/Winter 2020 runway show, Miuccia Prada contended with the ideas of femininity and power – driving home the fact that neither are mutually exclusive. The result was a pairing of “typically” masculine and feminine silhouettes (think: sharp blazers and basketball jerseys layered atop delicate skirts) which is considerably nothing new for the designer. It does, however, hark back to what Pradaphiles have come to love the designer for – her consistent and considered championing of women. Simons’ decade-long focus on menswear and often subversive, rebellious approach to womenswear – see: Dior – makes him the perfect ally for switching things up in the tailoring department.
More Political Play?
It’s pretty clear that we live in turbulent times. Neither Simons nor Prada have shied away from subtle (and not-so-subtle) political commentary. Simons’ last collection for American label Calvin Klein – which he left in 2018 – was no exception. To the uninitiated, Simons’ Spring/Summer 2019 showing was simply Jaws-themed. The designer, however, took to the runway with references from his favourite film which also served as a hint at America’s political climate at the time. Prada – who was famously a communist – has also used her platform to comment on the current happenings of the world (most recently and blatantly with her Spring/Summer 2019 showing as well). What a joint political commentary could bring, we wonder.
An Endless Well Of Art Collabs?
From politics to pop culture, both Simons and Prada have displayed various synchronicities in their creative direction over the years. Perhaps most prevalent, however, is how both designers are ardent advocates of the arts. Miuccia Prada’s arts and culture institution, Fondazione Prada, continues to remain a fixture in the designer’s life since its conception in 1995. Prada has also collaborated with the likes of Scandinavian artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, amongst many others. As for Simons, his longstanding collaborations with American artist Sterling Ruby and graphic design icon Peter Saville pepper his portfolio. A Sterling Ruby and Prada crossover at some point, maybe? Either way, we’re waiting with bated breath.