Raf x Miuccia

Prada SS21
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 24 September 2020

It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for: the debut Prada collection created under the joint partnership of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. Since the surprise announcement in February that Simons was set to join the Italian house, the world has been flipped upside down, yet our anticipation of this very collection has remain constant. And after all the conversations, rumours and predictions, the show has come and gone with the click of a button. No audience, no clamor, no fuss. How very Prada, really. 

Described as “a dialogue” and “a creative conversation” by the press release, it was clear that Miuccia and Raf had long mused on fashion’s purpose in today’s world. It’s an evolving question, clearly, and one that’s been shifted thanks to the current pandemic. However, for SS21, the two designers presented their initial proposal: “This season,” read the press release, “in a period where the mediation between technology and humanity has become vital – bringing us together, even as we are apart – inspiration is drawn from this inherently contemporary and inevitable fusion. The process behind the collection was, inevitably, shaped by these necessary restrictions: fashion as both reflection of and reaction to the time in which it is invented.”

It’s not an ideal way to begin a new job, isolated at home and having to learn and communicate through computer calls, but its something many have had to do lately, including Raf, it would seem. Rather than see these restrictions as a hindrance, the two co-designers translated the situation into their work. Cue a collection that explored the notion of uniform: “touching on multiple different interpretations of that concept – a uniform of Prada, of a community, a visual representation of identity, of shared and embraced values, a way of thinking.” Fashion is created to reflect society, and as the world becomes accustomed to a “new normal”, how will this way of life translate across our way of wearing?

Show time. In a plush carpeted room, cameras hung from the ceiling like NASA probes and as models (all of whom were walking the catwalk for the first time) stepped out, monitors displayed their names and numbers like they would in a classic couture show. The talk of technology’s influence became clearer.

A meeting of two heavyweight fashion minds, the clothing was a perfect swirl of both. Prada’s refined silhouette was redrawn in shell tops, straight trousers and pleated midi skirts clasped at the waist with a nylon belt. Kitten heels punctuated looks and Miuccia’s bookish style was felt across 50s-style jumper-skirt combos. The house’s signature nylon (this time a sustainable iteration) was ever-present, crafted into incredible couture-like pieces that hugged the body, and Prada’s triangle logo was also key. Throughout, models grasped buttonless overcoats and capes around the chest (dubbed clutch coats by Twitter), evoking a gesture of safety and warmth. 

As for Raf, his signature moves were woven throughout: distressed knits featuring cut-outs that looked like polka-dots, thin polo neck layerings, reminiscent of his Americana subversion at Calvin Klein, and minimalist two-piece sleeveless combos that were very sci-fi and very Raf. The Belgian designer even brought along longterm friend and collaborator Peter de Potter, who took a Xerox-style approach to Prada’s archive graphics.

Post-show, the usual press interviews were reinvented as a video Q+A involving questions submitted by the public. We learnt that Miuccia starts the day with a cup of hot water and Raf with a coffee (followed by a Coke Zero habit), and that this collaboration is more than collections, it’s an open conversation exploring society and culture: if SS21 was just the greetings stage, we can’t wait to get stuck in. 

GALLERYCatwalk images from Prada WSS21