If it feels like when you first heard of Raf Simons going to Prada happened in another world, it’s probably because it was another world last February. Nevertheless, here we are, watching this monumental fashion collaboration debut on a YouTube livestream. The first collection by co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons centres around the idea of uniform and a dialogue, what the brand calls, “a creative conversation in progress.” To recognise that, the two powerhouses sat down to answer crowd-sourced questions about everything from their personal uniforms to working together, and utilising the collective unconscious in their designs. It wouldn’t be Prada if there weren’t some hard hitting intellectual queries, after all. Below, some highlights from the conversation.
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On how long they’ve wanted to work together…
Raf Simons: I think it never really occurred to me that this could possibly happen but I have to say I’m extremely happy with it. I think we’ve always been very interested in each other’s work and obviously we met a long time ago because Miuccia and Mr. [Patrizio] Bertelli offered me the position at Jil Sander many years ago, for which I want to thank you very much, [Miuccia,] because it was my introduction to womenswear. And we kind of always stayed in touch one way or another… So when the question came there was no doubt… In that sense probably I can answer your question [simply], for as long as I’ve know Miuccia and her work.
On designing with a partner for the first time…
Miuccia Prada: I think it’s easier for me because you can share more than you used to share. … It’s just more interesting.
RS: Decision making is for me strengthened when I know Miuccia likes very much what I also like very much.
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On fashion’s obsession with “the new”…
MP: New is the nightmare of every single designer, probably. Or at least it was always for me. “New” is not so relevant anymore. In [the time of] Corona, everybody has to express the deep thoughts of a person, of a brand. And so the new just for the sake of doing new, doesn’t sound like the most important work.
RS: I think fashion in general hopes always for the new, and as Miuccia said as well, every designer wants to be new. But I think when you are in it for a long time, let’s say a few decades, it’s important to be able to refresh your own body of work. … That pure definition of new for me means it’s something we’ve never seen before. I think it’s a new person coming in. It’s a young new generation coming in. They should bring new.
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On whether this collection was about addition or subtraction…
MP: For me it’s a beginning and we have time to develop, addition, subtraction. And any kind of collaboration, that’s the beauty of it. We don’t know where we are going, we just started working together.
RS: This show was definitely about both, but we do not want to create for ourselves a specific way of working that would lead to either one of these two. … Not literally the two world sliding together. For us it’s very important that we keep the freedom of how we perceive our own way of working and how we then transport our own way of working—and it can be in very different ways.
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On what they drink in the morning…
MP: Hot water. My mother told me first hot water after breakfast. It’s very healthy.
RS: Coffee. I’m bad. Coffee and the rest of the day Coke Zero.
On what “Prada-ness” is…
MP: Other people should say, I am doing it. I don’t know how to answer.
RS: I talk to the team about me being also still the outsider and looking at the company, watching. I still try to keep on thinking about how do I see the Prada company, how have I seen the Prada brand and what does it mean? And specifically, how do I perceive it? So in that sense, for more than 25 years, before I even started my own company, I’ve always seen [Prada] as a community that you can’t really define what it is. That is the one thing you can’t really define, but you feel it is. It’s there, it’s present. … It has a very specific attitude, intellect, aesthetic.
I think most people in the world know form previous talks and interview that I am very specific and I like very little amount of brands. And that is what a brand needs to have for me to love it—the –ness is what it needs to have.
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On advice for a 10-year-old who wants to pursue a career in fashion…
MP: Study, study study! Learn, watch movies, watch art, read literature, and learn that a piece of clothing serves the rule of making you live better. It is for you and for your life, it’s not an abstract job. The result of my job is that people in my clothes feel a bit better, they can live a bit better. So it has to be useful and help define your personality … Really think of it as an instrument for your life.
On the new Prada uniform…
RS: The thing I have talked most about with Miuccia through all these months was uniforms. Not uniforms how as how we literally perceive them—not an army uniform, police uniform—but true metaphorical ones.
I think what we want to say about uniforms is that it’s interesting if you know that you can find something from which you know that you feel good in and you know that you express what you want to express without it being too much of a very specific fashion item in whatever moment in time. A uniform needs to also express something that is more timeless.
On their personal uniforms…
RS: My personal uniform is usually quite simple: black pants—Prada, not because I work here, since ten years or more—and a shirt.
MP: I personally go from one uniform to another one. Now my last love is a white pleated cotton skirt and a blue sweater.
On whether their ideas come from a collective subconscious…
RS: I prefer they always come from a collective subconscious. … I like to not only think that is something that I only feel because then it would feel already not right to me.
MP: For me this is a fundamental issue. I was want to propose something meaningful to people, because there are so many [brands]. You have to be connected to people—from what you read, from what you learn, from what you discuss. The more you are connected in reality with the world, the more your job is interesting.
This story originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.