Miuccia Prada's passion for the work of Yves Saint Laurent is the stuff of legend: In her student days, as secretary of the Communist party in Milan, she'd lead protest marches in vintage YSL. Saint Laurent's clothes for Catherine Deneuve in 1967's Belle de Jour struck a particularly personal chord, as they captured both Deneuve's bourgeois hauteur and the current of transgression that ran beneath it. So it was easy to see Miuccia's latest men's collection as a kind of Beau du Jour for the way that it pushed sobriety into the realm of fetish.
The theme was duality from the first outfit: a charcoal suit, sober enough, but its jacket was wrapped in an almost feminine way. And it was worn with a shirt that had two collars, one quite clerical. (The shoes also had a two-tone effect, and the swell of celestial voices in David Motion's "Buoyancy" on the soundtrack underscored the twisted religiosity.) The bi-collar was a foretaste of what can only be described as a male bikini, which combined a bib front with what appeared to be a visible jockstrap (or maybe male garter belt?) and closed at the back like a waistcoat (or bra). Wags instantly dubbed the look "wedgie chic," but it was more disturbing than thatas if traditional concepts of masculinity had been turned inside out. Of course, this is something Miuccia's talked about for years, but it was still striking to see it rendered so graphically. Even more so when a couple of back-buttoning blouses walked pastmale vulnerability wrapped up in a shirt.
That notion was amplified through flesh-toned knits that gave the impression of nudity, or traditional male garb reduced to fragmentsa collar and cuffs, for instance. Something about this hinted at Helmut Newton's classic photos of Saint Laurent's collections in the seventies. In other words, a typically provocative Miuccia exercise. And, boy-kini aside, the shimmery shirts, silvery shoes, and suits with a tonic gleam will be near the top of Fall 2008's wish list.