Friday 25th September

| BY Claudia Croft

Prada: Ready-to-Wear SS21

“A dialogue”: That’s how Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons described their collaborative design debut. The two fashion heavyweights became one invincible, taste-making force with their first joint collection. Their models (all making their catwalk debuts) walked through a yellow curtained and carpeted room, past ‘chandeliers’ of video cameras capturing them from many different angles.

The first looks set out the new Prada uniform. Tunic, trousers, low-heeled pointy sling-backs; and the collaborators introduced a new gesture as models clutched shawl-like nylon coats over their hearts, the same way Mrs Prada does when she takes her catwalk bow. Simons also used this gesture in his Jil Sander years. Her, him, them. This merging and mingling of two distinct fashion voices has never been attempted before and it is fascinating to watch their new dynamic unfold.

Pradaphiles will be thrilled to see the ugly prints from the seminal 1996 Prada show revisited. Raf fans will be equally delighted by artworks created by Peter de Potter, a long-term collaborator of Simons, superimposed upon those archival Prada prints. They served as a symbol of the evolution of the house. Her, him, them. That’s the mantra of the new Prada. Her fifties skirts, his peep-hole jumpers. Her re-nylon coats were constructed with his couture techniques (Simons spent three years at Dior). Some had backpacks integrated into them and a high/low, precious/practical, humble/Haute dialogue cut through the collection.

The designers used nylon and fleece alongside Couture fabrics like duchess satin and chiné taffeta but they cut back on superfluous decoration. Clean and pared back, the new Prada is not heavy with adornments, save for an oversized logo triangle on the breastplate of those new tunics (could they become the ultimate Zoom top?). Afterwards the pair sat down to answer questions submitted online. “It’s just more interesting,” said Prada of her new way of working. “Decision making for me is strengthened when I know that Miuccia likes very much what I like very much. So even when I’m convinced, my decision is strengthened when I know that she’s convinced, and the other way around,” said Simons.

Mrs Prada described fashion as a “tool for life” telling a ten-year-old girl, who asked for advice on becoming a designer too, “Know that a piece of clothing serves the purpose of making you live better, it’s for you and it’s for your life. It’s not an abstract job, the result of my job is that people with my clothes feel a bit better, they can live a bit better, so it has to be useful. And it helps to find your personality,” she said. There was plenty in this collection to help do that. The pair described it as a “creative conversation in progress. An initial proposal, the first example of myriad possibilities.” That’s an exciting thought. The promise of more to come.

Photography courtesy of Prada.