All images courtesy of Prada

IT BEGAN with a shirt and ended with an examination of fluid architecture, defined by “absolute freedom of the body, expressed through the foundations of the garments that clothe it.” Cerebral? Very. But we’d expect nothing less from Miuccia Prada and her co-creative director Raf Simons, who presented their sixth menswear collection together in Milan over the weekend. 

Staged inside the Fondazione Prada’s Deposito, which was decked out with aluminium treadplate seats and grated steel flooring, the brand’s spring/summer 2024 collection took place against a stark backdrop. The first two looks were equally austere; the show opened with two all-black ensembles — the first was an exaggerated shirt tucked into tailored shorts, the second a full-length boiler suit in a similar silhouette. 

Then came a printed shirt dripping with tassels and then, as we settled into what we thought would be the familiar rhythm of a runway show, goo began to ooze from the Fondazione’s ceiling, creating a translucent wall between the models and the audience. 

All goopy and droopy, it looked like a substance you might find in a Ghostbusters film.

“Now, in this time, we have to inject fantasy again, ideas,” offered Mrs Prada after the show. It was a cool stunt — less gimmicky than some we’ve seen at fashion weeks gone by. But this being a Prada show, it’s imperative that we ask: what does it all mean? 

In addition to fantasy, the metaphor here was fluidity. This collection — with the shirt as its starting point — was all about feeling free in our bodies, a feeling that is directly enabled or restricted by the clothing we wear. 

“The ultimate aim is a constant awareness of the body within, and its liberation,” go the brand’s show notes. “Beginning with simplicity, the collection proposes a notion of expansion, amplification of an idea — a paradox between silhouette and materiality.” 

Simplicity and silhouette — or simplicity of silhouette — was what remained with us after the show. Already, these conventions have been explored by a handful of brands this season, but Prada’s articulation felt especially exacting. 

Of the collection’s 46 looks, only 11 of them didn’t confine to the hero silhouette. That silhouette was oversized and lightweight on top, nipped high and cinched at the waist — some looks featured a flash of underwear above the waistband, perhaps a wink to that internet breaking collection coined by Mrs Prada for Miu Miu — and short yet loose below the hips. 

If we were to compare it to a shape, that shape would be an hourglass. Yet the schoolboy attitude Prada executes so well had a presence throughout the entire collection, including the long boxy coats and gilet vests that were peppered among that soon-to-be zeitgeisty silhouette, which can be traced all the way back to the structure and details of the humble, hardworking shirt. 

Absolute freedom of the body, Prada’s way. 

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