What was that set that the Prada audience walked in on today? Rows of massive concrete columns held apart two huge metal grilles, forming a boxy industrial space that could have been an underground car park, or the foundations of a skyscraper, or the bowels of the Battlestar Galactica. But then the lights snapped on with a sizzle, the mutated pulse of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" filled the room, and the show started with a lean blue suit, white shirt, and tie—the traditional male business uniform in all its three-buttoned glory.
As things progressed, uniforms from around the globe emerged as the theme. Backstage, Miuccia Prada explained that she had wanted everything as simple as possible in terms of fabrication, construction, and silhouette. So she used cotton, the hardest-working fabric in the world. From there she landed on the idea of working clothes, with a number being made from denim, the hardest-working cotton of all. Denim was used for hospital scrubs, layered over a shirt and tie of the same fabric, and was also cut into some of those lean three-buttons, one with white contrast stitching.
There were blues other than denim blues that evoked other uniforms: postmen, sailors (lots of boatnecks). Potent hits of color, meanwhile, were intended to suggest uniforms from other countries, the cross-cultural crush being a Prada signature. Striped shirts even looked a little like sports kit, especially in tandem with the baggy shorts that gave the collection an added airiness. Shoes took the weight this season with superthick soles made from sandwiching other soles together: wing-tips, espadrilles, trainers.
The week in Milan so far has been marked by heavy-ish collections that seem to pay little mind to the season for which they're intended. True, the weather here has been laughably grim for the start of summer, but Prada at least offered clothes that were light, playful, and optimistic, culminating in bright striped cotton sweaters that said it can only get better from here.
Spring 2011 Menswear
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