Fashion trends often document seasonal zeitgeists, mirroring what the world is going through. this season, they might just be an sos call to superheroes
There was something about Prada’s runway show that’s very unsettling. Some of the looks had shirt collars that were turned up unkemptly, sleeves that were hanging and dragging, and clothes wrongly buttoned. The season’s highlighted shirts, made in collaboration with artist Christopher Chemin, were desirable but thematically dark despite the pretense of cheery colors— one reinterprets the catastrophic story of Noah’s Ark, and another depicts a chaotic fight between Sigmund Freud, Frida Kahlo, and a bunch of the most eccentric personalities who ever lived. Even more intimidating was the setting itself. To a layman, it’s a cold structure, with dramatic lighting and an odd, raised center stage. In Prada’s own words, it is an auto- da- fé, a ritual of public penance for condemned heretics.
Backstage, designer Miuccia Prada mentioned “immigration, famine, assassination” as the keywords that underlined the tone of the show. The world was going through such a crisis in February this year, that even luxury brands like Prada wouldn’t let it go unacknowledged. In a press statement that followed after, she remarked, “It’s an excursion through history, connecting what’s happening now with what happened in history. See if there’s anything we can learn.”
Yes, it’s a troubled world we live in. But should we display that on the runway? Prada, cleverly, didn’t only present a little “chaos” through styling, but, on a bigger scale, wanted to reframe the way we imagine military heroes and sailors returning from troubled deployments. Notice how that idea alone had transposed into the most beautiful accessories for the season: the one- chain bracelet, faux keys (although this gives the wearer a prison-guard look), and small bag charms with mini anchors on them.
If Prada leaned on the military and sailors, both Antonio Marras and Dolce & Gabanna sought refuge in the Wild West. The former’s runway was awash with cowboy hats, neckerchiefs and, interestingly, floral prints. It’s a modern take on an American tradition, but the Italian blood in designer Antonio Marras pushed him to daringly propose a snazzy combo of boots and suits— creating a brand new breed of 21st- century gentlemen.
A more modern take—if that’s even possible—was offered by Dolce & Gabbana, whose models were livestreaming videos while walking down the runway. The clothes were likewise busy with printed images of guns, roses, horseshoe and even cartoon renditions of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana with their pets. Nobody would contest their skillful cuts and silhouettes, but with all those childish interpretations … it’s just too much of a circus, in the end.
Dolce & Gabbana’s show, however, was nothing compared to Philipp Plein’s. Notoriously over the top, the Munich-based brand scored yet another “most rambunctious show-and-party” title in this year’s Milan fashion week. Rapper L’il Wayne kicked off the “concert,” followed by a bunch of BMX- ers and skaters dashing through ramps while wearing LED-fitted outfits. Just a few minutes later, models rushed in to fill the very large space. While some may take it as a message about slowing down and taking things seriously, they couldn’t be further from the truth. The black- dominated collection was stranger than fiction, with conspicuous logos of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Captain America and other superheroes plastered all everywhere. It looked kitsch, and even tacky, although when each look was taken independently, the large amount of biker-inspired clothes—including jackets, pants and coats—were beautifully done. That is, again, if only we can get past the gaudy “S”-in-a- diamond logo.
“the world was going through such a crisis, that even luxury brands like prada wouldn’t let it go unacknowledged”