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Raf Simons Makes His Debut at Prada With a 'Dialogue' of Style Signatures

It was one of the most hotly-anticipated fashion shows of the Spring 2021 season.
Prada SS21 W show image_02

It would not be an understatement to say that fashion's most anticipated runway show of the year had to be Prada's Spring 2021 outing, where Raf Simons was set to make his debut as co-creative director alongside Miuccia Prada. The announcement made in February that one of the industry's beloved designers would be joining one of its highest revered houses sent editorial hearts racing, and ever since then, insiders and fans alike have been champing at the bit to see what this meeting of the minds might bring.

On Thursday, Prada unveiled the first collection made in collaboration between Simons and Ms. Prada, filmed on a spare set, following social distancing guidelines. The show notes call it a "dialogue," adding that it's "[a] definition, and then a redefinition, of values and ideology, a fundamental examination of the meaning of Prada." 

The collection was full of style signatures Simons has established through his other work: coats clutched in a hand (as seen at Jil Sander), turtlenecks throttled with logos at the neck (Calvin Klein), beautiful color play (Dior) and even the instantly-covetable graphic sweatshirts (his own menswear line — and soon, presumably, womenswear, which he will be introducing later this fall).

And while they feel one hundred percent Simons, they're melded seamlessly with Prada's own established codes, like jolie-laid patterns, ladylike skirt shapes, yards and yards of nylon and nods to Miuccia's own style. The mix pulled off the hat-trick of presenting something new while maintaining the feel of such a beloved fashion house. 

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Of course, it was only inevitable that the Covid-19 crisis would impact the design process: The show notes indicate that the Spring 2021 womenswear collection centers around the uniform, a continuation of the ideas started in the brand's Spring 2021 menswear collection. In a post-show conference, Simons explained how "the thing I talked most about with Miuccia through all these months was uniforms. Not uniforms as how we literally perceive it when we hear the word — not the army uniform or the police uniform — but effectively the true metaphorical ones."  

To further underline that this was a fresh start, the models — all of whom had their names appear on video screens placed throughout the set while they walked — were also making their debut, according to Prada. Not a single one had walked a runway before Thursday's show. It's hard to imagine being chosen to make a statement in such a major fashion moment won't give each of them a jolt to their careers.

See the complete Prada Spring 2021 collection in the gallery, below.

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