Milan Fashion Week Men’s, just another day at the office… or so we thought. Upon entering the Fondazione Prada, we found not cubicles bathed in industrial chic, but a surreal tableau. A glass floor suspended by iron struts revealed a meandering stream gurgling among autumn leaves. Above, the office drone continued, oblivious to the nature reclaiming the space beneath their feet. This audacious set, the brainchild of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, foreshadowed a Fall/Winter 2024 menswear collection that defied the boundaries between concrete jungles and elemental eldritch.
“At this moment, you can’t avoid talking about themes that are relevant,” Ms. Prada explained backstage. “For example, nature.” The collection, she and Simons explained, was a complex exploration of our relationship with the natural world – one of disconnection and longing for reconnection. “Most people’s screensavers are nature,” mused Simons, “but then we sit in this very synthetic human-made environment.”
And so Prada Fall/Winter 2024 presented wearable workwear for the modern man, be he “the businessman, the working man, the thinking man,” as Simons aptly categorized him. Ties remained, a nod to tradition, but subversive touches whispered of elemental escapades. Textured swim caps, a Prada signature, were paired with goggle-like glasses and smooth leather sandals, inviting wearers to plunge into the unknown. Tight-fitting raincoats, tweed chore jackets and three-button topcoats in classic grays offered protection for urban treks, while gold-buttoned marine outerwear in cracked leather or navy nylon hinted at nautical adventures. Utility belts, segmented into triangular leather sections, held removable gear pouches, while nylon totes held smaller leather counterparts, ready for spontaneous expeditions.
The collection exuded a quiet tension, reflecting the precarious balance between our built and natural worlds. Leather slippers, Simons’ own choice of dog-walking footwear, grounded the looks in familiarity, while his reference to the Elfstedentocht, a Dutch ice-skating race dependent on the freezing of rivers, alluded to a vulnerability beneath the surface. Was this a comment on our denial of the environmental crisis, our stubborn insistence on “normal” as the waters rise? Both designers remained enigmatic, with Ms. Prada conceding, “Probably there is something that is about the weather. Absolutely.”
But amid the urban-natural interplay, it was the set that resonated most strongly. “It was threatening,” Ms. Prada admitted. “For me, it was scary. That was the impression I had the first time I saw it. What is scary is the nature that you can’t touch through the glass.” This unsettling beauty, the tantalizing proximity of an untamed world just out of reach, served as the collection’s core.