Men’s – Let’s Talk About Clothes. Prada AW23

Whenever Prada delivers a collection this stern and reductive, you can expect a recession, economic crisis or a global disaster to happen in the near future. But since the last couple of years feel like a 24/7 state of being at verge of the world’s end, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons‘ extremely minimal and modest-looking outing might foreshadow the ultimate dystopia. Or maybe not? Maybe these are investment pieces for a yet unknown utopia?

The collection was entitled “Let’s Talk About Clothes“. The show was held in a Fondazione space pared back as never before, right down to its poured concrete bones. Above the guests’ head was installed a sunken roof of plasterboard in the same sludgy tone, about a meter above their heads. During the show it slowly rose, until sinking again at the finale. Clothes-wise, it was really about clothes. Of their recent dialogues, Raf Simons said: “we talk about how we want to work really hard to make clothes that can have a reality in this world, but which on the other hand still push it, which have a fashion point of view.” To achieve that they worked on a series of archetypal masculine garments in which they tried simultaneously to transmit both minimalism along with comfort and warmth. The first cluster of looks presented minutely-articulated variations – three-buttoned or two-, single-breasted or slightly doubled – in a kaleidoscope of charcoals. The cut was slim but floating, both to cut and physique. Instead of shirting the models wore detachable collars in various patterned fabrics, a motif that returned throughout the collection. These crisp cottons were the same used for the pillowcases, with accompanying pillows, sent out along with the show invitations. They were there to echo as “a Prada gesture” the floating sailor collars we had seen in past house collections for both men and women. The jackets were suddenly replaced with two blazers in suede, before a cocoon-like top – prefigured by those pillows – that more resembled something to lay your head on than slip your body into. An equivalent piumino version of Prada’s vaunted vest followed directly. Two (collarless) engorged and pillowish MA-1 bombers in the classic orange-lined colorways were next. These were the first in what Simons called “the stereotypes” of outerwear, a series that included a parka, a donkey jacket, and a duffel coat. They were cut extra-long, like formal feminine evening dress, and then quickly repeated in radically foreshortened equivalents. The collection continued its unfolding with a dialogue between color, texture, and form articulated through slim fit pants worn over colored cardigans and top coats shot through with retro-futuristic go-faster panels of contrasting and dynamic tones. The models carried totes, seemingly containing water bottles that were sometimes puckered in texture like cast-steel industrial flooring. At the end the white collar uniform of the introduction was supplanted by a modern version of a blue-collar equivalent; suede work aprons transformed into dresses, sometimes worn under topcoats. These pieces spoke of several assumptions at once relating to work, class, and gender.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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