Prada dons its Afghan caps to show fashion's intellectual side

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The Independent Online

The House of Prada prides itself on artisan touches which provide the quirky, intellectual flavour that sets it out from other Milanese menswear designers. Previous seasons have seen Perspex buckles, ties embroidered with mirrored discs and Op Art silk cravats.

The House of Prada prides itself on artisan touches which provide the quirky, intellectual flavour that sets it out from other Milanese menswear designers. Previous seasons have seen Perspex buckles, ties embroidered with mirrored discs and Op Art silk cravats.

Last night's Autumn/Winter 2005 Prada collection took a different tack, however, being breathtaking in its simplicity. Yes, there were jet-beaded woolly hats and Afghan caps with square NHS-style spectacles, but these trimmings are easily removed to reveal the perfect camel cashmere overcoat, sculpted chocolate brown suede jeans, fluffy black angora sweaters and truly lovely navy double-breasted suits.

Mario Boselli, chairman of Italy's Camera Nazionale della Moda and his French counterpart, Didier Grumbach, signed an agreement in Milan yesterday to promote the protection of intellectual and industrial property against "the invasion of low-quality products principally from China''. Prada is one of this trade's victims, but this season's menswear is such a display of such high-quality cutting in the world's most luxurious fabrics that it told the counterfeiters: "Don't even try".

The showman Roberto Cavalli, who presented his collection earlier yesterday, gave a master class in Italian tailoring with exotic hides and furs. Shown in what looked like an eccentric Russian count's library, it suggested a mad taxidermist. Luxurious patchwork jackets, jeans and suits were made with strips of crocodile, python, velvet and patent leather.

Jackets were cut in a fencing fashion with high-buttoned collars; trousers were ballet-dancer tights. Trims in chinchilla, beaver, fox fur and sable contributed to Cavalli's new Romantic Movement.

Wearable? If you can afford python jeans then you must have the lifestyle. But crucially these silhouettes too cannot be ripped-off in Shanghai.

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