Prada spring/summer 2016 menswear review: a fusion of opposites

Overwhelmingly - and endearingly - at the heart of this Prada show was a throbbing, raw core of vulnerability

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Indy Lifestyle Online

One couldn’t help but connect the see-through panels of sheeting preciously positioned, like plexiglass guillotine blades, above the heads of the guests at Prada with a new financial transparency currently heavily in fashion.

At least, I couldn’t. When you know how much money brands are making (or losing), you consider their actions differently. Fashion is a business - nothing is done purely for creative pleasure.

That said, Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli have sunk several million (allegedly - no official figures are available) into a Rem Koolhaas-designed foundation celebrating just that, a permanent home for their collection of contemporary art covering almost 120,000 square feet.

After their spring 2016 fashion show (ostensibly menswear, but also showcasing a clutch of women’s designs), the label inaugurated the space -  fashionably late, as it opened to the public over a month ago.

It’s impossible not to view the latest Prada collection in that context, nor to ignore the fact that Prada’s share prices have been slipping over the past six months (they hit a three-year low a week ago). See what I mean about financial transparency? Thinking of those figures influenced my view of Miuccia Prada’s latest menswear collection, with its slip-sliding clothes haphazardly layered, contrasting two-piece suits and tracksuits, jackets yanked up and pulled off shoulders to bare skinny sternums. Tug all that stuff straight and strip it down to basics, and the stuff will have an easy ride to stores.


That said, it wasn’t simple commerce on show. In fact, it was a display of how difficult it can be to satisfy both worlds, marrying opposing demands of sales and sensation. A mix, a mash-up, something of a mess - but supremely controlled.

A fusion of opposites seemed to be an overriding motif, not just the business-meets-pleasure mashing together of tailoring and sportswear but luxurious stuff like python (Mrs Prada dubbed that “the new poplin” backstage, explaining its use as unsummery shirting) with slithery nylon and leatherette, dressing and undressing via those peeling layers and gangly exposed legs and chests, and the whole juxtaposition of men with women (an old story, but Prada showed their womenswear resort line in tandem with their mens, so it rings true).

Overwhelmingly - and endearingly - at the heart of this Prada show was a throbbing, raw core of vulnerability. It felt exposed, like all that transparent sheeting, like those financial figures. There were rabbits dotted across sweaters, along with vector arrows and sportscars - the latter two symbols of speed precarious, fast-moving and dangerous; the former prey animals. Deep and meaningful arty-farty referencing? Perhaps - but maybe their meaning can be reduced to the level of cutesy, instantly-recognisable motifs that are bound to shift by the shedload.

Nevertheless, the fact Prada can evoke such complex thought patterns - high art, high finance, human vulnerability and redefinition of luxury - by tugging a jacket off a man’s shoulder, is an expression of fashion at its very finest. One that deserves to sell, too.