Prada Announces the Dynamic Duo

Words Gaby Smith

Fresh off the heels of Prada’s AW20 run­way dur­ing Milan Fash­ion Week, the lux­u­ry design house named Raf Simons as co-cre­ative direc­tor.

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.