Raf Simons Makes His Debut At Prada With A Show Full Of Fresh Faces

Long-time fans will not be disappointed.

Prada

by Natalie Hammond |
Updated on

Prada is always one of the most hotly-anticipated shows at Milan Fashion Week. But this season looked slightly different. Not only did the house decide to show via video, despite the fact that several other brands have opted for physical shows, but its leader, Miuccia Prada, was joined for the first time by her new co-creative director, Raf Simons. Speaking in their first (pre-filmed) Q&A, the pair’s wide-ranging conversation covered sustainability, inclusivity, the importance of uniforms and the essence of ‘Prada-ness’.

Prada
Lydia Kloos at Prada SS21 ©Prada

This last word is very important to Simons, and is something he thinks about often. ‘For more than 25 years, I’ve always seen [Prada] as a community that has a very specific attitude, intellect, aesthetic. You can’t really define what it is, but it is, it exists, it’s there, it’s present. It’s what I like about fashion brands. I’m very specific and I like a very little amount of brands. The ‘ness’ is what it needs to have,’ he explained. His debut collection certainly captured Prada's.

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Samb Fatou Kine at Prada SS21 ©Prada

The first looks, which featured logoed tank tops and tunic dresses that skimmed over slimline trousers, worked as a uniform of sorts. ‘I love the idea of uniform,’ said Prada. ‘For me, [it’s] something that lets you think and doesn’t distract you,’ explaining that hers, at the present moment, consists of a navy sweater and a white cotton pleated skirt.

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Dija Kallon at Prada SS21 ©Prada

There were also knife-point pumps with short kitten heels, coats that came clasped around the chest to frame the collarbone, knitwear that came layered with strategically-placed cut-outs and romantically-full skirts; plenty that Prada fans, eager to see their favourites respun, will recognise.

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Greta Hofer at Prada SS21 ©Prada

What they might not recognise, however, is the models. And for good reason. The show featured entirely new faces, many of whom undoubtedly will have a stellar career ahead of themselves after taking their inaugural steps on the (virtual) catwalk. Prada’s long-time casting director, Ashley Brokaw, is famous for spotting new names. And for their first ‘walk’ of their career, these names will often be exclusive to Prada.

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Fien Maes at Prada SS21 ©Prada

The brand has built a reputation as something of a talent incubator, with supermodels like Lineisy Montero, Amanda Murphy and Aya Jones all making their debut in the mid-noughties. Obviously, with a physical show off-limits, the latest crop will have had an overwhelmingly different experience. No front row, no manic backstage area. Still, they couldn't have had a stronger start. Watch the video below - and get these new names-to-know on your radar.

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Ngozi Anene at Prada SS21 ©Prada
Gallery

SEE: The Highlights From Milan Fashion Week SS21

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CREDIT: Valentino

Valentino

As one of the handful who decided to show IRL, Valentino's show, the finale of Milan Fashion Week, reminded us of the 'old normal'. But while the setting (Milan instead of Paris), the colours and the gowns were as breath-taking as ever, the collection did reflect what's happening the world - and how it's affecting our clothes. Boot-leg jeans were peppered throughout - paired with a blazer and Rockstud pumps, or a billowing sheer blouse - and were the result of an unlikely collaboration: Valentino and Levi's. For SS21, Piccioli reworked the denim brand's classic 517 - a boot-leg cut that has been waiting in the wings and is, now, ripe for a comeback. Hopefully it won't be too long until ball gowns are back on the menu. In the meantime, Valentino x Levi's seems like a brilliant alternative.

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CREDIT: Versace

Versace

Versace also decided to show in real life, but its guest list was made up entirely of its own team, everyone else had to watch the live-stream. The collection was inspired by the aquatic, with models walking through a set of crumbling ruins, Donatella Versace's very own Atlantis.

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CREDIT: Moschino

Moschino

Moschino's Jeremy Scott took the idea of social distancing incredibly seriously, staging a puppet show, complete with a string-operated front row. With fashion brands turning to the medium of video more and more, this stood out as something original and, more importantly, fun.

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BOSS

This seasons collection focuses on craft, colour, and artistry. 'A refreshing palette of blues, vivid emerald and soft rose enhances this new attitude, along with shades of sand, cream, and forest green.'

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Etro

Proud of its Italian DNA, this season Etro explores an eternally charming Riviera style. 'Fresh, relaxed, spontaneous,' the collection visits 'the alluring vibe of an endless Italian summer.' A nautical theme runs throughout 'with rope motifs, marine chains, anchors, seashells, summer stripes and sailboats. '

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CREDIT: Armani

Emporio Armani

Emporio Armani hosted a digital show this season, where the collection echoed its architectural surroundings, 'creating a dialogue that shares the same tone'. We saw feather-light materials as well as fresh and neutral hues. However, the evening wardrobe turned dark, mysterious and luminescent – like this finale look.

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CREDIT: Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana's SS21 collection was dedicated to patchwork, with look after look that was pieced together from jewel-like squares of fabric. But this wasn't just patchwork in the literal sense, but the patchwork of cultures in Sicily. 'Given our long experience designing and being inspired by Sicily, we wanted to tell of all that you can find on an island like this, the different cultures that dominated it, from the Spanish to the Arabs, from the Normans to the French,' says Domenico Dolce in the press release. 'We wanted to tell of all that you can find in a city like Palermo, like Catania, like Syracuse, like Agrigento, putting it together in a garment. Creating these patchworks, these combinations of fabrics, of atmospheres, of colours, of different qualities of brocade, from poplin to georgette to chiffon,' he continues.

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CREDIT: Getty

Alberta Ferretti

Alberta Ferretti's outdoor catwalk, which snaked around a covered courtyard that was green with ivy plants, catered for a reduced number of guests, each sitting on carefully spread square blocks to enforce social distancing. The show itself, however, was remarkably similar to the 'old normal', with a spring-facing collection that saw models wearing shells around their necks, gladiator sandals on their feet and clothes in beachy shades of lemon, coral and terracotta.

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CREDIT: Getty

Fendi

For her last collection before man-of-the-hour Kim Jones's arrival, Silvia Venturini Fendi took inspiration from her family, the generations reunited in Rome, and the simple act of watching the world go by at a window. The catwalk looked rather like a living room, albeit a very large and very long one, with white curtains wafting either side that brought to mind open windows, and undulating sofas where guests were spaced evenly apart as opposed to being squashed together. Fendi certainly managed to pull in the big guns, with Yasmin Le Bon, Ashley Graham, Eva Herzigova, Paloma Elsesser, Imaan Hammam and Edie Campbell all present and correct for what was most likely their first show of fashion month. The clothes were typically dolce vita in style, with an open-necked leather coat (on Le Bon), a trumpet-sleeve skirt suit (on Herzigova) and a sexily sheer rib knit (on Hammam). While we wait, and imagine, what Fendi + Jones might equal, shoppers will find plenty of wantable clothes to keep them satisfied next spring.

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