the need for normality: day two at milan men's shows
The words were Miuccia Prada’s, on a Milan menswear Sunday where designers including Dsquared2 and Missoni looked to nature in a new desire for simplicity.
prada fall/winter 17
A reporter in the usual backstage tower of recorders trying to capture Miuccia Prada's messianic words post-show asked her where the 70s lines flowing through her nature-centric autumn/winter 17 men's show came from. "That came out automatically," Mrs Prada, who always does the 70s, smiled politely. "It was a very important moment for humanity." It was as close as the designer was willing to get to current affairs, and with good reason. While her collection was no doubt a reaction to a world that went mad in 2016, this was about staying sane in all that madness. "There's too much to follow, too much to do. You lose somehow normal nature. There's a need for normality," she said. Prada had transformed her vast runway space into an enormous bedroom, the dark and dim colours of which made it feel more like the eerie ward of a sanitarium. The show was scored by a frenzied mix of violins and rave, but as the first exit casually wandered out in a pair of golden cords, a grey v-neck and a blue shirt, Prada had established her soporific intentions. "My inspirations are so complex, to summarise is impossible," she said, "but the main sentiment I had was going from bigness to smallness. From the big deal about installations, the big deal about fashion, the big deal about art, the big deal about everything—and going opposite. More human, more simple, more real."
She found those elements in the furry, autumnal browns of Nordic nature, wrapping up her medley of usual youngsters (Paul Hameline, Jonas Glöer) and more mature cameos (Ben Allen, Clement Chabernaud) in leathers, corduroys, sheepskin and knits in muted motifs. "I love those sweaters as an example of low art: 'the painter of the Sunday'—I don't know if you have that expression? Like naïve painting; merely picturesque," Mrs Prada explained. "We did huge research to find a known artist, but we didn't, because we wanted to find the perfect idea of no art. It's the denial of everything that's too much, and the desire for reality, humanity and simplicity." Bob Ross would have approved, not just of the relaxing colour scheme but the sentiment, too. It was a big fat CTFO to the overload of news, fake news, opinions, dumb opinions and general media mess responsible for the stressy, aggressive global mood that got us stuck with stuff like Brexit and Trump in the first place. Prada's collection was a silent, sleepy protest against the panic of these reactionary times, and in all its tree-hugging pacifism an unexpected break from the political conversation that's defined this menswear season. And she wasn't the only one who felt like a breather.
Dean and Dan Caten took the same desire for wanderlust to new heights in a hiking-themed Dsquared2 collection that also marked the debut merger of their men's and women's shows. The outdoor reference got all it could take - as is the Dsquared2 way - in garments covered in tourist patches, ribbed rubber soles, ranger jackets, parkas, shearlings and all the furry trims a nature boy - or girl - could want for. Fused with the dark signature of Panos Yiapanis, who has been styling Dsquared2 for seasons with much success, the outcome had a similar sombreness to Prada's excursion into nature, finishing on a gothy note in black leather gowns and capes, and a few gratuitous supermodels underneath them. Missoni took that extra step towards the outdoor reference in a show that had more dogs on the front row than a downtown strip joint—only these were the furry kinds, including the Missoni family's Golden Retriever puppy, who had a bit of an accident on the runway pre-show. The darkly coloured, super sumptuous mohair spectacle that followed was Angela Missoni's strongest menswear collection in recent years, and an appropriate contribution to a Sunday when the nature boys of Milan said relax.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams