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What the new Prada by Raf Simons will look like

What we can expect from the unprecedented encounter between two masterminds of fashion

What the new Prada by Raf Simons will look like What we can expect from the unprecedented encounter between two masterminds of fashion

With a last-minute and super-secretive press conference, last Sunday the rumours and the leaks that had been circulating for a while were confirmed. Starting from April 2, 2020, Raf Simons will become Prada co-creative director along with Miuccia herself
It's a unique and never-seen-before partnership that could shake up the fashion system and the prevailing idea of creative individuality. 

If the notion of a partnership is to work jointly, the result of that conversation may not only be product but also the propagation of a thought and a culture. A pure vision of creativity, with the product a vehicle for these thoughts. 

Although they are globally recognized as geniuses, able to anticipate times and create trends, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons have very different backgrounds. Miuccia Prada is the daughter of the Milanese upper middle class, with a degree in Political Science from the State University of Milan, she was part of the 68 Italian movement (legend says she wore Saint Laurent and emeralds to rallies) and inherited the family business when she was only 29 years old. Starting in the 90s thanks to the success of her nylon bag, she transformed the family company founded by Mario Prada in 1913 into a global multi-million brand following her rebellious instinct and an atypical idea of femininity. 
Raf Simons, on the other hand, is the son of a nightwatchman and a housekeeper, born in Neerpelt, a small Belgian village, in 1968. Graduated in 1991 in Industrial Design and Furniture Design at the LUCA School of Arts in Genk, he began his career designing furniture. An internship, which later became a friendship, with Walter Van Beirendonck and the famous 1991 Maison Margiela White Show introduced him to fashion. In 1995 he founded his eponymous brand and collections such as Sea of Desires and Inverse Future with their references to graffiti art and skate culture, made him one of the pioneers of the Trickle-Up Theory, a movement according to which it is the street that influences fashion and not vice versa. His extraordinary ability to combine underground aesthetics and subcultures with the minimalism and intellectual fashion of the late 1990s has established him as one of the greatest talents of his era.

Prada and Simons first met in 2005 when the Belgian creative landed in Milan to design Jil Sander collections, at the time owned by the Prada Group. Seven years later he was appointed creative director at Dior, and a few years later he moved to Calvin Klein, before resigning in December 2018. Allegedly Patrizio Bertelli called him right after this news broke to propose him a collaboration. 

Many believe that Prada has lost its connection with the current times and trends, too fossilized in a cyclical repetition of items and codes. Raf's arrival, with his unique style, at times obscure and intellectual but nevertheless beloved by a variety of influential personalities with the likes of Kanye West and A$AP Rocky, could reconnect Miuccia to a younger audience. Others believe that their debut will mark the biggest revolution in Made in Italy fashion in recent years while others think that the idyll between the two will probably end, as it happened between Simons and Calvin Klein, a partnership failed due to negative commercial results. This partnership might finally be a kind of trial to see if Simons might be the heir of the Prada empire, many say that Miuccia would be ready to retire, even though she expressly denied this possibility. 

The first Prada collection co-designed by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons will be unveiled next September, during the Milan Fashion Week SS21. nss magazine, comparing their creative careers, has tried to imagine how Prada's new course will look like.

A subversive creativity

As times change, so should creativity. The synergy of this partnership is far-reaching. It is a reaction to the era in which we live - an epoch with fresh possibilities, permitting a different point of view and approach to established methodologies. It can also be seen as the first step towards broader scopes of interaction - an initiation of free exchange and collaboration, a questioning of creative conventions. 

We read in the press release accompanying the news of the partnership between Simons and Prada, words that announce this union as a revolutionary event, capable of subverting not only the current concept of collaboration between designers but the entire fashion scenario. Mrs Miuccia, on the other hand, has long rooted her projects in the subversive, rewriting the codes of beauty, exploring the boundaries of the ugly and overturning their meaning. Some examples: the obsession with disharmonious elements, a nylon backpack like it-bag or her passion for the colour brown for its absolute anti-commercial nature. Even Raf is used to questioning trends and rules. He did so at Christian Dior by introducing his personal concept of punk romance and presenting a disturbing reinterpretation of American culture at Calvin Klein. 

Going against the tide

Both Prada and Simons throughout their careers have explored and often broken social and fashion clichés.

I always thought Prada clothes were normal, but not quite normal. Perhaps they have some disturbing little twists and turns, or something in them that is not entirely acceptable. Maybe there's a little bit of bad taste. But bad taste is not bad taste: it's a different taste. 

Said Mrs Prada, who has always brought a personal interpretation of femininity to the catwalk. In the FW20 collection lightness and delicacy, which have always been adjectives connected to an idea of frivolous woman, become synonymous with power and confidence. Simons, instead, continues to rework the male paradigm

The passion for art 

Miuccia is a great supporter of contemporary art and Fondazione Prada has become in a very short period of time one of the most important galleries in the world. 

Fashion is a way to be connected to what is happening in art, design, music, the whole culture of the time.

Her relationships with artists such as Rem Koolhaas, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Liz Diller, James Jean or Christophe Chemin have deeply influenced the creations of the Milanese brand. The same is also true for Raf who has paid tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Saville, Franky Claeys in his collections and with his long-standing collaboration with Sterling Ruby has created cult projects. 

A non-commercial creativity 

In 2016, Raf and Miuccia were interviewed for System magazine. On that occasion Mrs Prada said:

Prada is my own company, so it’s my own fault that it is the size it is, but now I’m at a moment where I really want to focus on what I like, what I care about. I don’t have to care if we don’t grow enough for the market. Whatever, who cares, I really want Prada to stay in a context that I like. 

Simons shares the same thought:

Because of the evolution of the fashion system, I see the possibility of strong businesses without creation. Am I the only one? We wonder if our company can now focus on creativity that leads to business. I don't want it to look like we're rejecting responsibility for our desire to strengthen creativity. But we must not forget creativity.