Representing the creative future

The Prada FW 21 Livestream through the eyes of the students

How was interviewing Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons and what did we learn from the Prada student Livestream?

As part of the PRADA FW21 Menswear show, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons sat in the runway space of their digitally streamed show to answer questions from students from all over the world. We spoke with the students that had the opportunity to interview the Prada co-creative directors, asked them about their experience, and took noted all the highlights.

Rosie Davenport, an MA Fashion Journalism student from CSM was presented with an offer for the interview from their tutors the very first day of her course. Being the first student to pose a question at the Livestream, Rosie asked Raf Simons and Ms. Prada how do they find their collaboration together and how they resolve their disagreements. “I think the question was most intriguing to me because any collaboration always interests me. How they make it work and how they can compromise? Especially due to both designers having such a history and being big names in their own right. It was such an exciting collaboration and moment. I just wanted to know more,” she says. Miuccia Prada didn’t hesitate to admit that they barely have any disagreements: “If one of us really hates something we don’t do it,” she said. “We are constantly discussing and communicating and have ongoing conversations around ideas. For me, it is completely natural that if we think about something and it doesn’t really match we say ‘Skip, move on, next thing,’ because there are so many things that do match,” Simons added. Ms. Prada took the conversation to the importance of being open to changing your mind and highlighted the fact that the collaboration between the two was a decision. “Nobody obliged us,” she said.

“If one of us really hates something we don’t do it.” – Miuccia Prada

Anticipating the interview, Rosie was nervous about messing up her question. “We weren’t briefed particularly, we had to practice without the designers just for the technical side to make sure we were in frame and test our mics. It was the first time both designers heard the questions in the Q&A, so I think that added to the authentic nature of the talk. I loved when they asked the questions back to Papa!” she recalls, referring to a later part of the stream when a New-York student named Papa asked the designers their opinion on ways that luxury can exist in the absence of wealth. Whilst Miuccia Prada mentioned that the solution is making fashion more open and accessible, Raf Simons was more interested in what Papa thought of the topic. The student had the opportunity to share his view taking as an example his place of origin, Ghana. “Coming from Ghana, we do have luxury designers but looking at places like Paris or Milan, the things that make fashion luxurious are not the same as in Ghana. What we can do is value our local textiles and artisanal crafts. [Designers] should collaborate and see how we can translate luxury in Africa, for example,” Papa shared. To which Ms. Prada replied, “If you have anything to propose, stay in touch!”

Accessibility was a core element of the conversations, with the stream being proof that big fashion houses like Prada are seeking a connection with their community and want to make their audience part of the collections. “I think it is amazing that the opportunity was given to students to talk so candidly with such big designers. It is definitely not something I expected to be doing in my first week. I think the idea of inclusion was prominent throughout the collection and the talk. Online fashion weeks have given the sense of accessibility that maybe fashion was missing before. I was able to talk to them in Milano from my bedroom in Newcastle!” Rosie says. “Everyone on my course and from CSM has been so supportive and it was lovely to represent the university, I felt very lucky. My classmates mainly said I looked very calm – which was definitely not true. My mum couldn’t believe how big my face was on the screen!” the aspiring journalist shared.

Another CSM student, Faris Bennani from Rabat, Morocco, who is studying Menswear, came up with his question after watching the show. Faris wanted to know more about the notion of uniform and whether the designers were thinking about uniformity when creating this season. “I found it interesting that it was more of an interaction rather than just ask questions and get an answer!” Bennani explains. Simons seemed flattered by Faris’s comment about the silhouettes being mysterious. “It is not very often that you can find something so flexible in fashion,” Miuccia Prada agreed. “I think that it was a very good initiative coming from a luxury brand to give a platform to students/emerging talent to bring in their creative perspectives and have an open discussion with well-established fashion designers,” says Bennani who admits that the conversation inspired him to get back to work.

“We decided we were not interested in creating a narrative around the collection but a feeling.” – Raf Simons

Talking with students from different disciplines such as fashion, architecture, philosophy, and business offered the opportunity to hear about different elements of the collection. The concept of space was revisited several times throughout the LiveStream, with Raf Simons explaining the important influence of architecture in the collection. “With what is going in the world right now, the idea of the environment, whether this is your house, the places you visit, the places where you meet people, public space and private space are so important… As we are in the dialogue of fashion in relation to society, spatial design influences us a lot. We decided we were not interested in creating a narrative around the collection but a feeling,” Simons stated, with Ms. Prada adding: “The architecture was particularly relevant. Personally, I live kind of secluded; So this [set] corresponds to this moment of being inside a bubble- this space is not outside but it is not inside. It is an abstract space, full of feelings, sensibilities, warmth, sensuality….”

When asked about the philosophical definition of fashion both designers agreed on the fact that fashion is “a performance through which we witness the continuous creation of our identities”. In Miuccia Prada’s words: “To be able to express your ideas, thoughts, and personality is the only real sense of fashion and what makes me feel like I do a job that makes sense.” Reflecting on the making of the show, Raf Simons highlighted the importance of losing control; “When we were filming the runway, we both had a certain perception of how to present the collection. (…) The dancing moments were spontaneous. We were in the space filming and I felt that the boys were feeling happy and excited. It was almost like physical feelings and I thought, why not start dancing?”

“Even if we are creative people our job is a commercial job because we sell clothes. Our job is to serve the people. To do something that corresponds to your idea but also people want to buy. Being a fashion designer is about this combination; of freedom of expression, creativity, and reality.”  – Miuccia Prada

The Livestream ended with an essential question: How do designers balance creativity and commercial viability? That is what Miuccia Prada considers the core of their work, stating: “Even if we are creative people our job is a commercial job because we sell clothes. Our job is to serve the people. To do something that corresponds to your idea but also people want to buy. Being a fashion designer is about this combination; of freedom of expression, creativity, and reality.”