Prada AW20 was about finding hope in a chaotic world
For her latest menswear show, Miuccia explores collapsing masculinity and the joy of work.
Photography Mitchell Sams
In Prada’s Giorgio de Chirico-inspired piazza, the audience peered down on the set as though it were a town square as seen from a first-floor window. A quasi-statue of an equestrian sat in the centre -- the kind you might see in any Italian town, an archetypal symbol of masculinity and power. Except it was made from two-dimensional pieces slotted into together.
The potential for metaphors are endless. A meditation on masculinity in crisis and its need to be carefully remade? Perhaps the angular red-lit arches and surreal lilac-and-pistachio floor was a cipher for the destruction of nature? Could it be about the anonymity of globalisation versus the local?
“Let me say what’s the point of this show,” Miuccia Prada clarified: “In the big -- not confusion -- but the complication of the current time, between the world going wrong or going better, the discussion on sexes, on surviving or not… I thought to give an indication that the only thing that makes me calm, relaxed and optimistic is to give value to work… to give value to things that matter in your life and your work. And so the creativity is mixed with technicalities, which is a little bit similar to the Secessionist period when ideas, creativity, and actual work had to be all together.”
So the collection was a new kind of executive realness; real workwear for real jobs to take pride in. If the set was a piazza, a meeting spot in the centre of town, then the scrambled finale (think of a train station at rush hour) made it clear that this was an eclectic crowd, stomping to their own beat. There were boys in charcoal three-pieces with ever-so-sloped shoulders and attaché briefcases (9-to-5 office with a dress code).
There were several tricep-displaying knits, sleeveless cashmere sweaters and cardigans with shirts and ties underneath (post-work workout?). There was plenty of bright colour-block tailoring with ruffled blousons underneath and Secession-inspired graphic sweaters (a WeWork scenario?). There were even boys in shearling-lined patent coats with fisherman boots (shepherd or hipster barista, you decide) and most trousers came with equestrian stirrup straps at the bottom. The point is to dress for the job you want, gentlemen -- one that you’ll do with care.
That’s not always easy and it requires a lot of effort, as Mrs Prada pointed out. Caring a lot about your work, finding the best solutions to problems and giving it your all every day is exhausting. She offered her own experience as a fashion designer in the age of climate crisis anxiety as an example, and the efforts that her business has put into upcycling nylon and cutting down waste.
“In our company, every time I do something, everyone now asks: ‘But is it sustainable?’ It’s incredible how in just a year it became a normal way … It becomes normal -- and that’s better.” She spoke about how it’s more expensive to produce something eco-friendly than not -- it requires that “creativity and technicality” that she mentioned, in equal measure. Her advice to young people today? “I want to give a hope that in this chaotic world if you do your job well, paired with intelligence and culture, give value and care to objects and not just throw them out -- already this is something, you are in a good situation.”