Not even a pandemic could dampen the excitement, or anticipation, surrounding Prada’s debut joint collection between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. Announced in February, just as a coronavirus outbreak shut down Milan — and then the rest of the world — the news that the veteran Simons would join Prada rocked the fashion sphere. How would the brand’s iconic, singular aesthetic change with two co-creative directors?
Thursday’s show offered a look. After a months-long back-and-forth on a physical show with live attendees, the first collection from the two designers was presented virtually, in an enclosed room outfitted with marigold-hued curtains, carpet, ceiling (and everything else), plus plenty of camera gear to get every angle of the collection.
It was easy to see the Simons influence from the get-go, the combo of sharp lines and feminine shapes that were brought into clarity during his time at Christian Dior. The designer’s preference for graphic prints was also there, in floral tech prints.
What makes this collaboration so heavenly is that those details are also part of Prada’s design codes, though she has done them with a different mix and balance. Prada also looks to vintage feminine shape, but they are quirkier; the graphics and lines and colors all there, too, but done just so. Both Prada and Simons held a discussion after the show in which they discussed some of these design codes and answered questions from a virtual audience. “I feel very at ease in the situation,” Simons said when asked what it was like to share the design process with another creator. “Decision making is strengthened when I know that Miuccia likes very much what I like very much.”
The garments focused on Prada’s codes of function and technicality, with nylon fabrics, garments like anoraks, easy skirts and base layers (made a little less practical with Swiss-cheese-like cutouts). The collection, in fact, focus on the “mediation between technology and humanity,” according to the show notes.
Footwear showed both designers’ obsession with vintage shapes, in kitten pumps with cantilevered heels and glossy exaggerated tongues. Heel heigh aside, the shoes reflected less of the pandemic-era practicality seen elsewhere in the season and in Prada’s clothing.
Sharp, pointy toes, a clear footwear preference for Simons, don’t seem to fit in most consumers’ new wardrobes. After a few seasons of sport sandals and apocalyptic boots, it was a disappointment to see only a kitten heel from another era on foot for today’s wearer. Even if they were Prada.
Still, this coming together of the minds presents a big new chapter for the brand. And for Prada fans, having a piece of the history will be essential. Even if it’s a kitten heel.