Words Gaby Smith
The Belgian designer shall work collaboratively alongside Prada’s head designer, Miuccia Prada. The unprecedented shakeup was announced during a press conference in Milan, with Simons stating the partnership is in response to the ever-changing fashion landscape that is moving to ‘exclude creatives’, noting that both he and Miuccia aim to strengthen and refocus the creativity of the iconic Italian brand.
According to a press release issued by Prada, the power duo shall share ‘equal responsibilities for creative input and decision making’. ‘This partnership opens a new dialogue, between designers widely acknowledged as two of the most important and influential of today,’ the press release said. ‘Conceptually, it is also a new approach to the very definition of creative direction for a fashion brand.’
Founded by her grandfather in 1913 as a leather goods shop, Miuccia has transformed the brand into one of the top luxury houses in fashion history. She debuted her first ready-to-wear collection for Prada in 1989, before launching her own brand Miu Miu in 1992. Meanwhile Simons is best known for his eponymous line in collaboration with Adidas, as well as his creative director tenures at Jil Sander (2005 — 2012), Christian Dior (2012 — 2015) and most recently Calvin Klein (2016 — 2018). The design duo have actually known each other since 2005, when Simons was appointed the creative director of Jil Sander, then owned by the Prada Group.
Despite the two talented designers being from very different backgrounds, their shared passion for art, historical dress and embrace of the present/future, is what unites them. ‘I strive for something new,’ Prada says, ‘but I’m always influenced by the past.’ Whilst Simons told Vogue in 2012 ‘I find it interesting to make modern clothes for modern women.. but that might also refer to nostalgia for a certain time.’
The partnership between Miuccia and Simons is marked as a rarity in fashion — an industry where one designer, not two, takes the lead of a fashion house. However, there are several successful fashion partnerships — most notably Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana, Viktor Horsting & Rolf Snoeren and Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia. Albeit the design duos usually join forces at the beginning of their career.
For Simons, the groundbreaking partnership with Prada is an opportunity ‘to relook at how creativity can evolve in today’s fashion system.’ When news of the collaboration broke, Miuccia Prada described the brand’s decision as a breath of fresh air and a gust of new wind.
Under the leadership of Miuccia, Prada is known for breaking rules and pushing boundaries, prizing innovation over inertia. Her guidance has successfully elevated the iconic Italian brand to one of the beloved high-fashion houses. Addressing the brands shocking move, Vogue described the partnership ‘a unique arrangement, [as] there are few examples of designer founders splitting duties with another creative of such high profile.’
With Prada known as one of the few European brands cited for their forward thinking, the two visionaries could take the fashion world by storm. Acknowledging fashions changing landscape, Prada has set the guiding principles as ‘innovation and collaboration’. Now well-positioned to change the trajectory of the fashion industry, will Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada’s collaboration fuel creativity and rejuvenate their statue as a top fashion house?
Critics may say the announcement of Simons joint venture has come at a somewhat interesting time. Recently, Prada has seen several struggles both financially and politically. In addition to declining sales, the brand was also embroiled in a race row in 2018 due to figurines resembling blackface, showcased in their New York store. Entering a new decade, the first collection designed by the dynamic duo shall encompass all creative aesthetics. Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada’s inaugural collection will be Spring/Summer 2021 womenswear, which is set to be presented in Milan in September 2020.