Keep the first look—blue sweater, untucked red shirt, houndstooth slacks—in mind while you reflect on Miuccia Prada's comment that she considered today's presentation "one of the most sophisticated I've ever done." Surely she was having us on. If that look was sophisticated, then Harry Styles is the new Cary Grant. But wait. As Miuccia went on to explain herself, her logic became clear. "Simplicity is so difficult. To make perfect something that is normal and classic is much harder." And make no mistake, Prada was in pursuit of perfection this season. The perfect sweater, the perfect shirt, the perfect fabric. It took nearly three months just to get right the perfect shades of red, blue, and yellow. "You want to wear everything," Miuccia enthused, "and that is really what fashion is."
The word "normal" stands out there. These were, on the whole, distinctly normal clothes, worn in a distinctly casual way by distinctly normal young men, with a few recognizable professionals and some older faces thrown in for good measure. "Normality can be provocative," Miuccia insisted. "Banality is the reality of life. I don't like a fantasy about life." But don't forget that this "normality," in all its checked-shirt-camel-coated innocence, had been studiously crafted by highly sophisticated minds. There was an element of signature Prada perversity in that.
Innocence, perversity, banality: Head back to the collection armed with that gleesome threesome and another vision—a peculiar hybrid of the fifties and the nineties—began to insinuate itself. The velvet-trimmed coat collars, the ruffled shirts, the drainpipes, and the thick-soled brogues had a Teddy Boy tang. But it was mixed in with something that felt like Prada menswear from an earlier time. The clue was the nudge of knowingness that often makes you feel with Prada that you might be missing the point. Never mind. "In six months, we will say the opposite," said Miuccia, all too versed in the sui generis rhythms of the fashion industry.
And in six months, we may also see the actual furniture produced by Knoll from the geometric "anticipations" designed by Rem Koolhaas's company AMO that furnished today's elaborate, enthralling set. It was made up of rooms in an "ideal house," with screens that featured interior and exterior views onto a cityscape. They went "live" when the show began. As flocks of birds wheeled past "windows," a Siamese cat ambled from screen to screen, through rooms, along windowsills. In an age of Life of Pi-sized wonders, this was one more.