Listen to this article
Prada shows are like election night exit polls: you can’t call the season until Miuccia has shown what she’s thinking. She cast her vote for the zip-up, which we can pretty much now confirm as the look of summer/spring 2016. Here it was the zip-up track top, usually in navy with bands and trims of colour. These were like the track tops from some 1980s athletics meet you can never find on eBay (I’ve tried). Relax, next spring they’ll be at Prada.
The show was gleeful with ideas, many of them like a warped version of Prada greatest hits. This spring’s top stitched tailoring returned, this time a single track of stitching around the lapel of blazers or up the side of trouser legs. Jackets pushed off the shoulders were reminiscent of a Spring collection from 2009. I’m sure Prada nerds could spot further nods to the past. For those who buy into fashion, such games are total pleasure.
There was much that was totally new. Green Shetland sweaters were knitted with white rabbits. Silk shirts came in vertical bands of colour. A zip-up was printed with a repeat image of a Formula One car, the image made up of horizontal lines like you were too close to an analogue TV screen. Can we talk about zip-pulls? Mrs Prada chose ones that are like a small metal string of five little ball bearings. On a zip-up track top of a double layer chest pocket and two pockets for the hands, that makes five dangling silver zip-pulls. Menswear gets its decoration in the strangest ways. The show felt alive, a vigorous shake in a city where much of its menswear is torpor.
What’s this? A zip-free show? For the first third of Calvin Klein Collection, it looked that way. Tailoring was buff-body ready, denim jackets were the norm, minimal top coats to mid thigh and a strap hanging around the waist of otherwise neat trousers had an air of the much-missed Helmut Lang. No zips! But then out came look 17 — a tech parka with a utility zip-up beneath, the slim pants with zippered pockets. There were at least 10 zips in the whole outfit, as if it were paying off some zipper deficit.
The zips didn’t stay around long. Midway through, the collection broke out into stonewash denim, which felt quite a thrill. Is being thrilled by stonewashed denim a cause for concern? Whatever, the work of men’s creative director Italo Zucchelli was tight, athletic, confident and entirely on his own page.
It’s hot here in Milan, let’s seek out some ease. At Tod’s, it’s menswear creative director showed off a great field jacket in deep blue herringbone linen, or a pilot’s jacket with similarly utilitarian pockets, bubbling up as another main theme of the season. He was particularly proud of a super-light zip-up blouson in lightweight stretch leather, lined in cotton denim, along with what he called a new camouflage made from the shape of clouds. I thought a pair of regular blue jeans looked just great.
Ideas abounded at Bottega Veneta. Creative director Tomas Maier sent out hooded lightweight cagoules in sheeny cupro, worn with fleece pants cuffed at the lower calf. Suede jackets were zip-up, a wide band of ribbing at the back. Zip-up hooded jersey jackets had quilted front panels, the stitching like topography. Sea blue cotton poplin utility jackets were faded at the edges of pockets, as if they were long pre-worn. When there was tailoring, it was suddenly jewel intense, like a ruby jacket made even more vivid worn with a canard blue scarf.
Can I break out of critic speak for a second? I want to wear this stuff. It was the roomy fit of the zip-ups, the slouch of the pull-on pants (which is the luxury industry’s name for a trackpant), the stone colours of the hoodies, and that terry cloth top! I always forget how much I love terry. Maier cuts for a full body, his silhouette masculine and flattering. It’s something that’s crucial in this new world of luxury sportswear, not just thinking of the garment as flat, but giving it a third dimension, necessary as we men get, you know, older. Wait, this is getting too personal. Back to critic speak. Maier delivered a really great show.
Charlie Porter is the FT men’s fashion critic