Prada: Fall 2014 (Act One)

by Alex R. Travers

PRADA FALL 2014 MEN'SIn terms of excitement, the moments building up to a Prada show rank at the top of the pecking order. Sometimes the setting and invitation offer clues of what’s to come. This time, though, there wasn’t much to study, save for a caged-in set and a black invitation card with names scribbled in White-Out pen. So, what to look for?

Sound can be crucial, even in its absence, to Prada’s world. And today, the pairing of a live orchestra with the Germanic tunes of Kurt Weill and the heavy metal of Rammstein reinvented how music can guide a fashion show. From the set to the styling, Miuccia Prada raised the bar on what it means to put her the audience at the service of her characters.

And it’s to the character of the models—always mysterious, often purposeful, and probably a reflection the designer’s mood—that we return in utter delight. Miuccia is the master of tweaking reality and putting her own spin on history, sometimes using it to fix what she deems as a problem: “There is generally an element of fantasy in my work. I’m not interested in factual accuracy or in literal interpretations of history.”

Today she softened that fantastical sensibility. Her men—and women—looked as if they were in a hurry, hiding from the bright spotlights above the stage. There wasn’t a print or an embellishment in the entire collection. That, in fact, would give her fugitives away. But the music reflected where they were in time and in place. Sometimes it was soothing; other times it was frightening.

Her first look—an overcoat worn with  no shirt, a scarf, and wool trousers—was…well…languid. The coat billowed; the scarf flew; and then the model paused, briefly, under one of the many hovering interrogation lights. After that, he went on his way. Where was he going? Where did he come from? It was hard to conjure up ideas. At times the scarves (a consistent thread weaved throughout the entire collection) were fixed as if they were neckties, but the trompe-l’œil positioning suggested something was amiss. These scarves/ties were also used to color block the shirts, jackets, and trousers. That visual technique was actually one of the highlights of the show—maybe even a transgression that could shift the way men dress in six months. (The popular Pitti Uomo layering style has recently been called “caricature-like.”) The clothes were, after all, distinctive and simple.

But simplicity can be deceptive at a Prada show. We know that. And perhaps maybe is the operative word when it comes to a trend change in the next six months. Still, it’s worth paying attention to what’s going on in Miuccia’s mind.