Following his stint with Calvin Klein, Miuccia Prada has tapped Raf Simons for the role of Co-Creative Director at Italian fashion brand, Prada.
While Milan Fashion Week did stir up commotion with some questionable tributes and comments, fashion junkies were treated to a delicate treat from Italian luxury brand, Prada.
It was revealed that the longstanding friendship between Belgium-born designer, Raf Simons, and Head Designer, Miuccia Prada, has formed into a partnership. Both highly revered figures in the fashion industry, Prada and Simons will be working side by side as Co-Creative Directors for Prada. “We like each other, we respect each other, we will see where that takes us”, Prada said.
The friendship between the two high-end designers birthed in 2005 after Simons was appointed as the Creative Director of the then Prada-owned, Jil Sander. Since then, the Head of the Italian brand has dropped hints about a possible partnership with Simons. “One thing I would really love to do is to work with Raf, and maybe with other people – it would be so much fun,” Prada said in a conversation between the two designers.
“When we both believe in [an idea], we’re going to do it. When one doesn’t believe in it, we won’t do it,” said Simons on his upcoming role at Prada.
Although Simons is confident that the two will be compliant with another, the contrasts between the two is what places an aura around their upcoming partnership that is set to become official T April 2, 2020.
On one hand, a 52-year-old Simons has been particularly drawn to menswear with The New York Times even referring to him as arguably “the most important men’s wear designer in the world”. Starting out as a furniture designer, a young Simons cited fellow-Belgium designer Maison Margiela as an influence to shift into fashion.
In comparison, Prada has always looked to evoke feminism through her collections. Now 70, the Italian designer spent her early life delivering “political manifestos wearing Saint Laurent and emeralds” due to her role in the Italian communist party, simultaneously holding a role in women’s rights groups. With a PhD in political science, Prada has transcended fashion with her pieces that challenge political and social ideals.
“What matters for me is ideas, and the aesthetics are totally secondary,” says Prada. And forming a partnership with the meticulous designer that is Simons may just be what the Italian brand needs.
A Needed Change?
Fashion is constantly evolving with designers evoking different sentiments through their collections. However, with drawing on personal experiences for inspiration comes the possibility of remaining stagnant.
“Miuccia and I had a conversation about creativity in today’s fashion system. And it brought me to open dialogue with many designers, not just Mrs Prada. We have to re-look at how creativity can evolve in today’s fashion system,” said Simons.
Simons has continuously explored his versatility and expanded his range through collaborations with Jil Sander, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Adidas, and not to mention his own line. His upcoming role at Prada marks his first external project since leaving Calvin Klein in 2018, and with two years of hibernation under his belt, hopefully Simons can help re-invent the Italian brand alongside Miuccia.
Since 2015, Prada’s place in the market has been rather shaky. A 2014 report indicated that the luxury brand had experienced a nine-month decline in sales. Around the same time, consumers began to question the quality of Prada’s handbags.
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The brand also caught major backlash in 2018 after releasing figurines that resembled ‘blackface‘. The company is now providing paid internships for underrepresented groups and has hired a diversity officer.
While 2018 did provide some optimism for the brand after bouncing back from declining sales, it was reported in 2019 that the brand dropped $864 million in value due to Chinese spending. Although Prada went on to attribute the fall to the drop in yuan, Miuccia’s decision to sell ownership of her Milan stores to the parent company meant the future wasn’t clear for the brand.
Looking back on it, it’s been a tough few years for Prada and maybe a hint of fresh blood wouldn’t hurt. The addition of Simons to the Italian house marks the first time that the brand has worked with major fashion talent outside of the Prada family. And with both designers looking to move towards sustainable designs, maybe Prada is moving in the right direction.
For those wondering when the partnership will come to an end, it’s unclear. “The contract is forever,” Prada says. With Simons potentially in line to take over as Head Designer for the brand, could this new partnership signal Miuccia’s swansong? “Absolutely not,” she assures.
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