Raf Simons is headed to the creative helm of Prada! Oh wait—actually he’s going to its sister brand Miu Miu. Well, it all depends on how recently you’ve refreshed your Twitter timeline. In many ways, the Raf Simons Prada rumor mill is indicative of today’s hype cycle, where the speculation has almost superseded the truth. What started with a now-deleted tweet from Wall Street Journal journalist Jacob Gallagher (truly, a @woj-esque move) has now taken on a life of its own. But what does this obsession with rumors say about us?
The idea that Raf Simons could be headed to Prada makes design sense and business sense. After all, he was at the helm of Jil Sander from 2005-2012 and created some of the house’s most grail-worthy pieces to date—like his marble print collection that was immortalized by Virgil Abloh in that “Kanye West and super fashion friends” photo. Given the rapport between Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada—and their mutual appreciation—the match is almost too perfect. But it’s also reflective of the super nerdy fandom that fashion has become.
And it’s particularly interesting how the kinds of “leak” accounts that usually would post mock-ups of Nike x Off-White™ collabs, fabled Yeezy colorways, and grainy photos of next season’s Supreme pieces already in the hands of resellers are all of a sudden super invested in Simons’ next fashion endeavor.
These are places that generally talk about rumored products purported to have a high resale value, so for them to care about Simons’ next move either implies that his Prada collections will be worth flipping, or that the Belgian designer who sold a shit ton of weird-but-in-a-cool-way adidas Ozweegos has become an indelible part of street culture’s collective consciousness.
It’s even gotten to the point where overeager digital sleuths are repurposing a WWD article from 2005 as confirmation of Simons’ return to the Italian fashion house, even though a recent WWD article about these new rumors officially added Prada’s comment on the matter, which of course, is “no comment,” also known as the area between the shrug emoji and thinking face emoji.
Everything you really need to know about the creative synergy between the two fashion behemoths (legends even, depending on which Instagram fashion archivist you ask) can pretty much be extrapolated from this lengthy interview the two had for System magazine three years ago.
Back then, Miuccia Prada admitted herself: “One thing that I would really love to do is to work with Raf, and maybe with other people – it would be so much fun. If I could do a show with him, imagine how much fun we would have.”
Of course, this was in the context of wanting more creative freedom for designers, sort of treating each other’s labels like museums where collections were made by guest curators. Simons posits the idea of Miuccia stepping into his eponymous line for a season, him designing a season of Marc Jacobs, and ultimately Jacobs having a go at a Prada collection. It all sounds like your coolest friends wondering what it would be like to dig through each other’s closets for a day—and to be honest—who wouldn’t want an invite to that party?
But there is a downside to that, which Prada points out. In the age of fashion as an increasingly important part of pop culture, and less of this more niche, elegant hobby reserved for people with high amounts of taste and money, the spectacle it’s become can detract from creative purity. “There is this entertainment aspect: people just want to be excited,” Prada laments to Simons. “For instance, if Raf did the next Prada show instead of me, the whole world would be going ‘Wow!’ But maybe that’s all they would talk about.”
And indeed, people are talking about it even if it’s real or not. Every fashion month there’s always a fresh cup of tea about to boil over. During the Spring/Summer 2018 season, the rumor mill churned out the news that famed Parisian boutique colette was closing its doors—something that turned out to be true. Last season, when it was announced that Humberto Leon and Carol Lim were stepping down from Kenzo to focus more on their Opening Ceremony label, the word on plenty of people’s lips was that Yoon Ahn of AMBUSH would be tapped to replace them. That wasn’t true. Although now both AMBUSH and Opening Ceremony have been scooped up by New Guards Group.
Look, gossip is catnip for fashion people. And if you’ve ever been to an actual fashion show, then you definitely know how it’s just like herding cats. Rumors, like conspiracy theories, can be fun to participate in. Until you realize the person you’re talking to legit believes the moon landing was faked. Anything speculative should be taken with all the grains of salt you can stomach, eventually the truth will wring itself out.
But ultimately, whether the news is confirmed or denied isn’t the best part of this whole situation. It’s the for/against dialogue happening around Raf Simons and Prada. The schoolyard dialogues around “Who would design a better Jordan—Hiroshi Fujiwara or Virgil Abloh?” now include “Who would make a better collection—Raf Simons at Prada or Simon Porte Jacquemus at Jean-Paul Gaultier?”
And for better or for worse, it’s nice to see that fashion can still inspire that kind of fervor in its biggest fans. But hopefully that doesn’t inhibit the creative decisions of the Raf Simons and Miuccia Pradas of the world.