Milan autumn/winter menswear 2015: Very different takes on Italian luxury from Bottega Veneta and Prada

One offered a crisp, clean and specific view of man for the future, while the other gave a bit of everything

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Clarity and disparity. Those were the overriding if opposing themes that united the Bottega Veneta and Prada shows, bookending the second day true of the autumn/winter 2015 Milanese menswear shows.

What do I mean by that? That one offered a crisp, clean and specific view of man for the future, while the other gave a bit of everything. Both were equally satisfying, albeit in very different ways, and possibly for very different customers.

Tomas Maier’s Bottega Veneta was about choice. There was something about the ”creative life” in the inspiration notes - but cast asunder any allusions to starving artists shivering in garrets. Bottega Veneta has staked its claim on Italian luxury: ostrich and crocodile hides, cashmere, valve and the label’s intricate, handwoven intrecciato bags that cost, roughly, as much as a second-hand car. That said, the point of this Bottega Veneta collection was to mix that luxe stuff with washed corduroys, fleece and knit. “Beautifully-made clothes that have lived a life,” said Maier of the show. This is not about meticulous dressing.”


Rather, it was a grab-bag of clothes that came across as a fully realised wardrobe rather than a painstakingly put-together look, despite how perfectly every outfit was composed (or perhaps, because of precisely that). You got the feeling Tomas Maier wants people to really wear these clothes - many of them were already pre-washed and worn-in, creased, mended and patchily dyed. he managed to give them a universal appeal, by eschewing the vanity of an overriding theme and focusing instead on purely beautiful pieces of clothing. No-one would wear everything, but there was nothing that couldn’t be worn by someone.

Tomas Maier’s Bottega Veneta collection was about choice (AFP)

Miuccia Prada’s winter collection was the polar opposite. In  good way. As Bottega Veneta cast its net wide, so Miuccia Prada focussed with razor-sharp intent. Her catwalk this season was a series of metal and faux-marble clad chambers, her models relentlessly young and preternaturally skinny boys with thinning kewpie hair, bouncing out on plastic, saw-toothed orthopaedic shoes dressed in shiny, synthetic nylon. There was tailoring too, in slate grey mohairs, multiply buttoned, everything as flat and boxy and clean as the rectilinear clutches the models grasped at. But it was that slithery nylon that stuck with you.

So did the preponderance of womenswear - the Prada pre-Fall collection, one of those collections that forms the lion’s share of fashion houses’ income these days, shared the catwalk with the mens. Frequently, womenswear at menswear shows (which has become something of a cost-effective trend to showcase these inter-season ranges) comes across as gimmicky and distracting. Here, the flat-pack pleated dresses and shiny coats delineated the collection’s keynotes. Its focus was as narrow as the tailoring, but the slick, synthetic universe of Prada’s winter wonderland was compelling. For him, and for her.