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