The gingham check invitations should have been a heads up from the get go but still, it was surprising to see the cottage-core pattern make its appearance on the brand’s runway for the Spring/Summer 2023 Menswear Show held at the brand’s home ground of the Fondazione Prada in Milan. Its appearance was a segue to a conversation on the multiplicity of choice – and need – informs what we wear each day.
Choice, choices, decision making – these were the concepts that Muccia Prada and Raf Simons presented through garments deliberately juxtaposed. How do you choose what you wear each day? Need, comfort, uniform for work – or is it an assembly line of what’s in front of you? Is this a nod to the decision fatigue that we can find ourselves in each day when it comes to trying to decide what to wear? Perhaps. But if it is, the designers have taken the opposite direction to Obama’s infamous solution which was to wear the same blue suit every day and remove the need for any choice.
Rather, choice becomes the bedrock of styling. Multiple choice, if we’re being accurate. Rather than choosing one particular idea to build a wardrobe upon, Prada’s solution is to weave multiple threads together in the one look. While the first looks to come out was a series sharp edged suits, subsequent looks cleared the way for more freestyle pairings. Leather is teamed with plaid, Cuban heel boots become a summer shoe worn with shorts (either leather or denim). Kink themed picnics? Sure, why not.
Shorts were of an almost comical shortness – thighs are again in, but those of us with more meat might struggle – but their pairing with coats and long layering made them feel more real world than they should. Who hasn’t ducked out of the house in a pair of football shorts and a jacket? Contradictory dressing is a part of every day life. Prada’s simply taking it up notch with the theatrics and details. Swap the Cuban heel out and replace with some Blundstones and you’ve got your average tradie. Has Sig.ra Prada been hanging around her local construction site? I truly hope so.
In between all this were more classic looks: jarringly bright coloured tops with tailored pants, the denim shirts and trench coats, a grey cardigan over bottle-print shirt. Neither Simons or Prada seem to be trying to recreate an entirely new look for men – it feels more about rethinking how you wear the familiar.