Prada returns to minimalist roots for first joint collection

MILAN (Reuters) - Miuccia Prada went back to her trademark minimalist style for her first collection with Belgian designer Raf Simons, who joined the Italian fashion group as co-creative director in February.

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The pair’s Spring/Summer 2021 women’s show was streamed live on Thursday for Milan’s fashion week, where most collections are being presented digitally and without audiences due to coronavirus social distancing rules.

“It’s a really strange situation,” Prada said in a video after the show, where she and Simons answered questions from people around the world.

“But we have the occasion to really show the clothes, we can’t see the real people, the public, but at least we hope you can enjoy and see the clothes better.”

Models wore mostly black and white or pastel-coloured vests, trousers and long skirts in simple, monochrome designs which Prada said were inspired by the idea of uniforms. Many clothes had round-shaped holes cut out of the fabric.

“Clothes are pared-back, refined, focused, without superfluous decoration: shell tops, straight pants, overcoats in industrial re-nylon,” the brand said in a statement.

Simons, 52, said he had never expected to be, one day, co-designing a collection with Miuccia Prada, but that he was “extremely happy” with the result.

“Maybe it’s harder as you have more dialogue, and that can also impact on the timing, but all in all I find it easier,” he said when asked what it was like to jointly create a collection.

“Decision-making for me is strengthened when I know that Miuccia likes very much what I also like very much. Even if I am convinced, my decision is strengthened when I know that she too is convinced.”

After becoming one of Italy’s best-known fashion houses, Prada has struggled in recent years.

A restructuring drive began to pay off in 2018 when sales returned to growth for the first time in four years thanks to a new strategy aimed at rejuvenating the label by renovating shops, launching new products and boosting online sales.

But the Hong Kong-listed group has, like luxury rivals, been hit hard by the pandemic, which forced high-end houses to temporarily shut shops and idle manufacturing sites.

Simons’ appointment, announced in February, marked the first time the Italian fashion house has hired an outsider to work with its head designer. He was most recently creative director at Calvin Klein and before that at Christian Dior and Jil Sander.

Miuccia Prada, 71, said at the time the move was not intended to pave the way for a possible succession as the group’s top designer.

Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Claudia Cristoferi; Editing by Janet Lawrence