Prada’s Rompers For Men

And other arm- and leg-baring pieces for the spring/summer 2022 season

The end of the tunnel is the sea. That’s Prada’s message of positivity during a pandemic, already suggested in this season’s eye-catching pop-ups. Models walked in an angular, red-lacquered, purpose-built passageway that ends in the open air of the sea. Prada calls this the “Tunnel to Joy”. The emotion isn’t so palpable, but you could almost smell the coastal salt. In the first frame of the model stepping outside, the camera pans to the ground and leather slip-ons strike the soft sand. The contrast with the red hard floor prior is immediately discernable. Come out to the outdoor (it is the seaside of Sardinia). Here, you’ll be free. Isn’t freedom the key message of Milan Fashion Week? Even with the radiant reemergence in mind, Prada has resisted the IRL fashion show. Yet, its half city, half seashore presentation isn’t bereft of the energy missed by those who have not been able to attend large-scale physical events. It has retained the sleekness, minimalism, and the vim of Prada shows.

And what do you wear to meet joy? First up, rompers, one of the key products in the likes of The Editor’s Market. For men, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons bring together shirts and shorts as onesies (top pic), all in what appears to be the shirting fabric of cotton poplin. To be sure, these are not shortened jumpsuits. They have the ease and playfulness of rompers—garments initially associated with children’s clothes. Ensuring that their leisure intention isn’t mistaken, prints are incorporated: ’50s-looking tattoo-illustrations spread randomly across. If you want something more traditionally masculine, there are a couple with bold, vertical, unbalanced stripes. Next, there are the abbreviated ‘skorts’—skirt-meets-shorts combo—that, for any wearer, are half way to donning an actual skirt. But it isn’t immediately clear, while we watched the show on our PC, if what is shown is a skirt over shorts or that the front panel hangs like an apron. Either way, the skirt component isn’t ambiguous.

There is a surprisingly large show of skin—invariably arms and a lot of legs (phew, no midriff! Well, one: he is, after all, going to the beach!). Out of the 39 looks, 33 feature shorts/skorts. We do not remember a Prada Men’s collection that had only six pairs of trousers (in the last spring/summer season—before Mr Simons came onboard—there were no shorts!). That’s just 15 percent of all the bottoms shown. Is that a prediction that men will not be buying longs next year or that they want to look like they’re in primary six all over again? For the past year, the loungewear that many people supposedly adopted is mostly associated with joggers. Even when shorts are ideal at-home wear, it is the trousers worn by runners after a run that have been in the spotlight. As guys slowly move away from the confines of WFH, could it be that shorts would be preferred, as play takes priority over professional pursuits? The potential mass adoption of shorts and the common leg-baring would no doubt bring immense joy to the environment-protection activist Ho Xiang Tian!

A Prada collection is not a Prada collection without the quirky pieces—even more, with Raf Simons in the picture. Items you would not find in an average bloke’s wardrobe: knitted mock-turtleneck bibs, square-neck tank tops, blousey sleeveless boat-neck tops, and floral hoodies. But perhaps most desirable are the accessories, in particular the head wear. The bucket hats will likely be the most trendy and trending. This season, they come with a longer triangular brim in the rear, like a bobby’s custodian helmet, worn front-to-back—and the chin straps too. Some of them have a usable triangular (coin?) pouch above that brim extension in the back (longer to shield the neck from the sun?), while others have slots in the sides to welcome the arms of sunglasses so that the eye wear may perch right on top of the head wear. Looks like, next summer, limps can go quite bare, but not heads!

Photos: Prada

Two Of A Kind: The “Half-Suit”

It first appeared in 1982. Now Fendi is reviving it. Is half better that one whole?

Fendi Vs Philip Garner

Intrigued by Fendi’s lobbed-off suit-jacket shown in the recent spring/summer 2022 collection, we Googled to see if there was a precedence to this unsettling outfit. And true enough, there was. In 1982, this tailored piece (right) was proposed as an alternative to wear when it is scorching, as seen in the book of humour Philip Garner’s Better Living Catalog. Called the “Half-Suit”, it was shown worn in the same way as Fendi’s—with a cropped-off shirt and tie. The original version was preppie to just above the solar plexus, offering “abbreviated midsection for comfort and physical flair” (Fendi omitted the latter!). The author described the Half-Suit as “a new concept in warm weather business attire.” It does not seem to us that Fendi intended theirs for the corporate office or meetings with a bank’s relationship manager. In the book, it was further recommended that the Half-Suit “may be worn with shortened pants…” An idea that Fendi, too, adopted.

Philip Garner, 79, is an American artist and author (another book of his went by the title Utopia or Bust: Products for the Perfect World), known for his satirical take on consumer products that he cheekily—but not inaccurately—called “inventions”. They included such unlikely items as the Palmbrella, and one unimaginable “high-heeled roller skate”. He even appeared on late-night talk shows, such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, to tout his wares. Today, we’ll gladly labelled all that ‘fake’. In the 1980s, Philip Garner began developing a separate identity and started transitioning to Pippa Garner. Her new gender is more than a reassignment; it was also an “art project,” as she said, “to create disorientation in my position in society, and sort of balk any possibility of ever falling into a stereotype again.”

Silvia Venturini Fendi made no reference to the Half-Suit. Well, not yet. It’ll be interesting to see if Fendi’s version will take off when the Garner original elicited mostly laughs. Unlike the RTW of Fendi’s, the Half-Suit of 1982 was sort of customised. As stated in the out-of-print book, interested parties were asked to “send us your suit(s) for professional quality Half-Suit modification in our modern facility.” And happily it offered more: “For a slight additional charge, zippers can be installed, allowing rapid full-length reconversion at the onset of chilly weather.” Fendi’s very likely do not come with that welcome option.

Photos: (right) Fendi and (right) Delilah Books

At Dolce & Gabbana, It’s The Festival Of Lights

Guys want extreme resplendence now?

We always wonder: Do Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana sell that much of their giddily gaudy clothes to be able to afford a show with 96 looks, just as many models, and a custom light installation to beat all Little India light-ups during Deepavali, till today? Their spring/summer IRL show—called DG Light Therapy—in Milan is so blindingly brilliant, you’ll only subject your eyes to it if you have no objection to retinal damage. “The aesthetics of the 2000s meets the traditional Italian art of luminarie, a symbol of joy and positivity,” went the D&G’s show description. Luminous! That’s putting it mildly. Even Dior’s resort 2021 collection, similarly staged against the background of glittering luminarie—also of southern Italy—pales in comparison. Dolce & Gabbana is more dazzling than Dior!!!

The only other name capable of such meretricious madness, we thought, is Phillip Plein, but even the master of kitsch is outdone by Mr Dolce and Mr Gabbana this time. Is this an extreme reaction to the fashion lull that has overwhelmed the clothes worn during these acutely less social times? D&G is not known for their whisper-quiet style. Garish is often the thrust of their output. To think their clothes would not be flashy is to imagine that one might find a pair of plain jeans in raw denim in their store. However loud we think D&G is, we didn’t ever ponder that fairy lights would one day be imagined on clothes (that, in itself, is new?). The proverbial Christmas tree! Is that not worse than being likened to a peacock? Must fashion now look like a spin-off of the Mardi Gras?

Maximal style has, of course, gained currency among certain fashionistas. For many adopters and followers, fashion isn’t fashion until it looks fashion—until it stares in your face. D&G isn’t only achieving the maximum with what’s decoratively possible on clothes, it is pushing the limits. And if the garments themselves are insufficient to hold all the ostentation, pile on the blink: accessorise. How much can a single body hold? How do these clothes make the wearer feel? Perhaps the wonder of D&G is that no matter how ‘normcore’ fashion goes, they can be counted for clothes that amplify the opposite, the other end. That’s their consistency: always nudging forward what would be, for many (even the well-informed), an anomalous judgment of taste. Sure, there are many who like fairy lights (nothing wrong with that), but how many actually desire looking like they are wearing coils of them, and it’s not the festive season, yet?

If you break every piece of the collection down, the clothes on their own—minus the surface treatments—are what you have likely seen (not necessarily bought) before. An oversized T-shirt is an oversized T-shirt, a shirt is the chemise they have mostly been, and the suits are just that. The one re-imagining is the purple blazer with red leg-O-mutton sleeves (to better accommodate bulging biceps?), but even that isn’t a jaw-dropper as we have seen them in womenswear (so well done by Viktor and Rolf). Despite their attention-grabbing styles, Dolce & Gabbana has not won back the attention of Asian consumers after their PR/marketing blunders of the past years. Recently, Hong Kong songstress Karen Mok (莫文蔚) was slammed by Chinese Netizens for wearing D&G in her music video of the re-issue of the Cantonese rap-track A Woman for All Seasons (妇女新知). Asia’s largest luxury market has not quite forgotten. It’d take more that fairy lights to put Dolce & Gabbana back in the spotlight.

Screen grab (top) and photos: Dolce & Gabbana