Listen to this article
“I never wanted to say the word sexy in my life,” said Miuccia Prada, backstage after her spring/summer 19 menswear show. In its own perverse way, the show had been sexy. Partly it was because many of the models wore the shortest shorts, often in clinging knit. But it was also because the excellent cut of the vivid blazers and straight-leg pants created a look that had nerdy animal charge.
Mrs Prada said the desire to be straightforward was intentional. “I like to use simple, banal words,” she said, “because sometimes people, not only in fashion, in general, in politics, they invent so much stuff. In the end, I’m really fixated on saying what it is. It’s not being conceptually pretentious. Try to be honest.”
Hang on. Isn’t Mrs Prada usually a fan of extreme conceptualism to explain her shows? Let’s not question it, because this new honesty resulted in the best Prada collection in some while. At its core were deeply desirable pieces that could be worn straight off the runway: blazers in denim; a camel coat that was classic Prada; sweaters like an old skiwear.
Mrs Prada said she wanted to focus on the precise detail of the clothes. This was clearest in the construction of the pants. They had form, with an integral belt and front pleat, but they also had slouch. The cut was slightly away from the leg, with movement as they walked. It was as if the pants were deciding whether or not to flare. They didn’t.
Those shorts. “Like a miniskirt,” said Mrs Prada. After she had spoken, I tracked those shorts down. Sadly, I don’t travel with a tape measure, but can confirm the length of the shorts was a hand span plus about an inch. Try that measurement against your hips for a sense of their brevity. This was the measurement across the board, from those shorts in denim to the very much more snug pairs in clinging knit.
Throughout, colours were vivid, often saturated primaries and acid tones. Rollnecks looked great in either block colours, naïve floral prints or some trippy graphics like a promotional pamphlet for a 70s cult. On their feet were some great sneakers, either athletic runners of technical knits. Some of the models wore deck shoes. So much stuff to buy, presented clearly. It was so refreshing. Message to other designers: right now, simplicity works.
Photographs: Jason Lloyd-Evans