There was a memorable Prada show, for Spring/Summer 2014, where Miuccia Prada played the anthemic Britney Spears song Work Bitch as part of the soundtrack. It seems she isn’t quite over the sentiment: “The collection celebrates the idea of working – in all different spheres and meanings,” Prada stated after the Autumn/Winter 2022 menswear show she staged with co-creative director Raf Simons. “It is a practical, everyday thing. But here, you are formally important.”
Let’s take a moment: this show was always going to be important in and of itself because it marked the first IRL catwalk unveiling of the menswear vision of this duo. An ungainly sentence to quantify that, while we saw Prada womenswear in the flesh in September, the menswear had been showcased via video until now. And although these pieces undoubtedly had an impact through photography, in the room they were something else entirely. “It looks softer in pictures,” Simons said to me. In person, to reference another song, this was hardcore.
The collection also opened and closed with two figures that kind of represented the Prada-Simons partnership: the first exit was Kyle MacLachlan, whose turn in Twin Peaks has inspired entire Simons’ collections of the past. And the last was Jeff Goldblum, a well-documented Prada obsessive – past, present and, it seems, future. There was also a conscious throwback through the casting of them and eight other famous male actors, including Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Asa Butterfield, Damson Idris, and Louis Partridge. It was inevitable you’d think of a Prada Autumn/Winter show from a decade ago where another superstar cast of A-listers walked. That show was about the machinations of power – and parodying them, poking holes in their constructs. Here, however, there was an egalitarianism – it wasn’t just about rich suits, but about workwear of all kinds – humble overalls, military-influenced jackets, survivalist outerwear, yet executed in stuff like technical silks, or with hems smothered in rich mohair plush. “The approach is to make all garments equally important,” Simons stated. “Every aspect of reality can be elegant and dignified,” agreed Prada.
Sliding between different disciplines and materialisation, there was a sense of everything being pushed, heightened – formalised is the wrong term, although it was refracted through the inevitable formality of rigorous sartorial tailoring, clothes for dressing up in that have become occasion-wear, especially during the pandemic. Then again, can’t everyday be an occasion? Why not dress up simply to leave the house – which over the past two years has often been an event in and of itself. Fashion shows, certainly, feel more special than ever before. Maybe special is the wrong term – how about precious? Something to be cherished? That was really the overarching takeaway from this Prada show, where reality was celebrated and commemorated. Don’t take anything for granted – enjoy life. A note of joyful positivity, to begin the Autumn/Winter 2022 menswear season on a high.