In Milan, Miuccia Prada showed yet another collection of postmodern menswear worthy of the current menswear revolution. Her set reflected the same modern reinterpretation of traditional structures in the form of a provincial town square pared down to clean planes with dynamic color blocking and a glowing red corrida. Yet Prada’s aim is to transform classic menswear staples into a fantasy wardrobe of well executed workwear for the modern man. This is her response to what she sums up as the chaos of the times. Fill in the blank with any number of crisis that come to mind. The designer proposes throwing yourself into your work and taking pride even in the resulting fatigue which can be the saving grace to get us through. The Prada collection lays out a whole new set of wardrobe concepts for autumn winter 2020. According to Prada, every man needs a pointy collared dress shirt, (sleeves are totally optional) a good sweater with a nice slim fit (again sleeves are optional) in cashmere, with a chunky marl, or ultra-modern graphic pattern. Followed by a pair of high waisted tailored trousers for everyday use with either a cuff or a stirrup, and a jacket with broad shoulders that looks flattened, as if Tom was wearing it just before Jerry whacked him flat with a giant mallet. The whole ensemble must be topped off with a statement tie, not too wide, nor too narrow in a real zinger of a color such as acid goldenrod or constructivist red.
As the show progressed athletic/industrial rubber stamped details were revealed adding stylized reinforcement to the corners of valises and jacket collars and pocket flaps. Pullover sweaters burst into Vienna secessionist inspired graphics, and candy colored monochromatic looks with minimalist tuxedo shirts packed a punch. A luxe matching pajama set had such futuristic vibe it could easily double as a uniform on the new rendition of Star Trek. Footwear ran the gamut from colorful red or yellow rain boots, to streamlined neon blue sneakers. Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada must have planned this in advance, because the rain boots looked a lot like the boot shaped “sneakers” Simons just released under his namesake label. There are a lot of similarities between the collections, which feels partly intentional, but also a sign of the genuine kindred spirit between the two designers. The broad, flat jacket silhouettes, the ultra modern traditionalist tailoring, even the color palette of traditional neutrals, muted greens and blues, soft grey, and pops of acid-tinged brights are aligned.
As an undercurrent of the collection you could tell Prada was thinking about uniforms, a big trend in menswear this season. You can see the classic bench marks of a bankers wardrobe reinterpreted for tech stars and ceo’s. The stirrup pants, vests and ties, and wellingtons had a bit of a horse stable feel – maybe the equestrian statue in the middle of the set enhanced that association. Equestrianism isn’t something a whole lot of people may relate to, but the discipline and ritualistic practice, care, and relationship between horse and rider reflect how Prada feels about her work, and illustrates the kind of working attitude she proposes as a possible antidote to the chaos of the modern world.