Prada called on Hollywood heavyweights Jeff Goldblum and Kyle MacLachlan to bookend its catwalk on Sunday afternoon, bringing a close to a quiet menswear fashion week that saw multiple brands cancel their shows in light of increasing Covid cases across Europe.
The appearance of the actors at the Fondazione Prada punctuated the second physical catwalk show from founder Miuccia Prada and her co-creative director Raf Simons since the latter came onboard in early 2020, marking an unprecedented union of two of the fashion industry’s most influential and famed designers.
The fruits of their collective output have so far proved to be critically acclaimed and this autumn/winter 2022 collection had the hallmarks of the same. Taking the concept of uniform as their stimuli, Prada and Simons elevated boiler suits in silk tech, leather and cotton, and blurred rose-print – replacing “the traditional historical shirt/tie/bow tie and giv[ing] a new energy and reality, a younger attitude also,” said Simons. Outerwear loomed large in trench coats and utilitarian parkas with shearling panels. Elsewhere, the accessories that will get the social media universe buzzing arrived in compartmentalised backpacks, fluorescent gloves and miniature pocket belts in the signature Prada triangle.
“The collection celebrates the idea of working – in all different spheres and meanings,” said Prada, emphasising the idea of the importance of formal work and the wardrobe she imagines represents it. “Through these clothes, we emphasise that everything a human being does is important. Every aspect of reality can be elegant and dignified … elevated, and celebrated.”
Joining Goldblum and MacLachlan to present the collection to a socially distanced audience of 200-plus guests was a new generation of actors: the Queen’s Gambit star Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Sex Education lead Asa Butterfield and the award-winning Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders. “Actors are interpreters of reality, employed to echo truth through their portrayals,” said Prada. “Real men, recognised figures, they bring a new facet of reality.”
The reality of the Italian fashion week was something different from what had been scheduled. Giorgio Armani, one of the showcase’s biggest draws, was the most high-profile designer to cancel his eponymous and Emporio Armani shows – “with great regret and following careful reflection in light of the worsening epidemiological situation” – in early January.
Carlo Capasa, president of the governing body of Italian fashion, the Camera della Moda (CNMI), said that while he respected Armani’s personal decision, it was important to find ways to push on with live events that facilitate face-to-face interaction and drive revenue into the Italian fashion industry.
“Given the situation we’re doing the best we can do in this moment and we have proven we can manage the situation,” said Capasa, referring to the strict distancing, FFP2 masks, and proof of full vaccination that were required at all 16 physical shows on the schedule. “Generally speaking, fashion week needs to go on [to give] the sign that the industry needs. It’s very important [as] it’s the second biggest industry [in this country] and we have 1.2 million people working in fashion in Italy. We don’t know how long it’s going to take to be out of the current situation [with the pandemic] and so it’s about trying to find a balance between real life and security.”