For all the TikTok-fuelled madness around fashion shows, and in particular the Prada show where screaming hoards of teenage girls line the street outside in a Gen Z frenzy for K Pop’s latest answer to the Beatles, Mrs Prada herself was in a more reflective, digital detox kind of mood.
“We thought about that idea of being attached to nature, the elements, the weather. That’s reality,” she said backstage at her autumn/winter men’s collection in chilly Milan, watched on by actors James McAvoy and Jake Gyllenhaal. The designer juxtaposed the idea of the natural world with the corporate, creating an astounding set of office cubicles and swivel chairs with a natural forest bed under guests’ feet, with streams and rivulets trickling through it.
“We thought about the relationship between city and country, and the seasons.” said Miuccia Prada of the collection that harmonised a wardrobe for both kinds of settings; knife-edge sharp suiting with substantial outerwear, and nods to a maritime wardrobe. “There are lots of references to water,” said her co-conspirator Raf Simons, who Mrs Prada creates all her collections in collaboration with now, which parlayed into the peacoats, rain coats, double-breasted great coats and swimming caps.
Prada tends to set an agenda with how men will dress; the trickle down effect that means that by tiny decree her dictacts on a Milan catwalk will eventually influence the high street. So it’s encouraging to see, in the section of her collection devoted to cityscapes, that the suits a point of focus; lean as you like and with shirt and tie, that humble accessory which used to form an essential part of every man’s wardrobe and today barely features.
The more ‘rustic’ part of the collection, with its nubbly Donegal tweeds, herringbones and solid coats in mossy heritage fabrics. That’s ‘rustic’ in the inspirational only; this is the upper strata of luxury and there’s not a man alive who wouldn’t look impeccable in one of those handsome coats. Woven leather trousers also pointed to the importance of handcraft and artisanship in the digital age.
There were playful elements – those zingy-hued knits and knitted swim caps – but the mood was grown up and sophisticated. That’s been a thread throughout men’s fashion shows in Milan and Florence these last few days, and perhaps a sign that menswear is set for a more grown up mood (and more adult consumer, not just the younger generation that luxury brands market themselves towards these days) in the months and years ahead.
Raf Simons talked about savouring his moment of calm in the morning with a coffee, taking in his garden. Doesn’t that sound more appealing than scrolling through social media?