Urban Characters

…encircling a man on a horse. But don’t take anything literally. It’s Prada


20-01-15-21-01-30-373_deco.jpgPrada has always been concerned with attitudes, consumption, or the state of the world than fashion itself. It does not succumb to trends—we don’t remember it did. If anything they show turns out to be trendy, coincidence is more likely than calculation. The Prada man, defined from the first collection in 1993, hitherto seems more inclined to express his outlook on the changing world he lives in than through clothes per se. Sure, Miuccia Prada has made certain clothing uniquely Prada—the relaxed suits, the retro coats, the camp shirts—but they do not place the wearer on trend-specific grounds. Yet, you know he’s a creature of fashion, uniquely so.

This season, that indefinable fashion man appears. He’s of the modern world, but he is also a part of the world of art, of the affluent, of the countryside, hipsterdom, of corporate life, of blockchain, of lounging, of clubbing, of social media, of whatever that now makes a man a man. Watching the presentation, show-goers look down into a piazza, which could be like how the audience once viewed the action at the Colosseum. Could this too have been a The Matrix moment, when the Neos of the world avoids the Agents in a sea of brisk-waking humanity?

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We admit we are reading too much into a collection that may not have been conceived for decoding. Well, we don’t  know what that cardboard sculpture of a man on a horse means either. But does that that really matter? Do men communicate the same ideas as Miuccia Prada when they don the clothes she designs? The thing is, Prada’s collection seduces the mind. It send signals to the brain, rather than the heart, and leaves a clear message: we want the clothes; we want to look like that!

That, to us, mean a certain veering off the standard, the classic, the recognisable, but not teleporting to another planet. We like that the suits are unmistakable, yet not one that you are expected to wear to a boardroom meeting, untethered to a digital world. We like the coats that are a little large and boxy, but not to the point that you could be mistaken for a filial son unwilling to discard the clothes he inherited from his father. Or, a member of a delegate bound for a UN meeting. We like the mis-match, off-beat styling—a sort of Pee-wee-Herman-found-modern-fashion vibe. We like the pajama-styles, with those repeated-pattern prints only Prada dares to propose and present; we’d wear them to that boardroom meeting!

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And there are the colours—not your Arrow shirt palette. Rather, those that seem picked from a chart for wall paint. It is totally imaginable seeing Miuccia Prada selecting colours from that than from a Pantone guide, just as she had from wallpaper swatches for prints. The orange (or burnt sienna?), the greens, the blues in cool tones that, when mixed, appear deeper and bolder, and even a tad mismatched, which make them even more appealing because the energy transmitted have the same potency and calm as, say, an Edward Hopper painting. That they are welcome alternatives to only-all-black-is-truly-fashionable underscore how the chromatically off-beat too can sit alongside the sooty and glum to communicate sartorial edge.

This collection shows Prada to be in fine form. Typical of the brand (which will bring a smile to fans), there’s the nod to the past just as there is the embrace of the present, or the sportif and the semi-formal, the nondescript and the eye-catching, the rural and the urban, the skinny and the oversized, the sleeved and the sleeveless the plain and the plaid, the cool and the goofy. Enough extremes to ensure a guy in 2020 does not need to choose the mainstream.

Photos: Prada

Street Players Meet

This is no collab with Supreme. Some of you might be delighted. 😀


CDG X Stussy SS2020 P1

By Ray Zhang

For the Comme des Garçons sub-brand CDG’s first collaboration, the three-letter label chose not the obvious or those the main line had paired with before, but one, although now trending, isn’t immediately the name to sing a duet with: Stussy. Yet come together they did, like Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

I am not at all clear what the end game might be, but it looks like this pairing is going to allow two very different brands to sing their way to their individual banks—gleefully. Stussy, possibly flushed by the high that came from its founder’s collaborating with Dior two months ago, is a surf-turn-street-wear brand currently being rediscovered by a new gen of fashion folks and celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. CDG, interestingly hashtagged “CDGCDG on social media and “CDGCDGCDG for their web address” (wouldn’t we recognise that as kiasuism?), is possibly the most street of the main label’s many sub-brands. In that sense, it is possibly a match made in heaven.

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Frankly, I am not quite sure I see Stussy or CDG in this sole release: a unisex varsity jacket in heavy and coarse melton wool, lined with (presumably polyester) satin, and appliquéd on the left sleeve with chenille patches of a distinctive Comme des Garçons perfume bottle (Concrete, maybe?) sandwiched vertically between a jacket and a pair of pants, and on the right, a bucket hat and a T-shirt. At the back, a much larger patch depicting a stylised surfer holding a CDG-branded surf board. The media release says that the jacket “nods to the past without losing sight of the future”. Hmmm… a future together?

Those of us hoping to find in this collaboration some spirit of either brand might be disappointed. I don’t know who this is really for. One Comme des Garçons “please, I-buy-only-the-runway-pieces” addict told me the varsity jacket is “definitely” not for him. We concurred: CDG, the label, is not exactly shorthand for the main line’s outre looks. Rather it is to maximise profits with and to entice those shoppers who care only about logos, and prominently positioned ones. This varsity jacket, too. If, however, price is a concern (and I understand), one can always pick the Hanes T-shirts—they’re also a collaboration and are always available.

The Stussy X CDG varsity jacket, SGD570, is available at Dover Street Market Singapore. Photos: Dover Street Market