Actors carry the show for Prada in Milan
During the autumn/winter 2012 menswear shows in Italy’s fashion capital, Milan, two key wardrobe themes emerged: sharp suits and strong coats.
Miuccia Prada took those trends to the next level with a blockbuster catwalk show based around the ideas of men and power. To convey that message, she enlisted A-list Hollywood actors, including Gary Oldman, Adrien Brody, Willem Defoe, Jamie Bell and Tim Roth, to walk a red, white and black carpet, alongside regular catwalk models.
The first outfit, an elegant black coat, worn with a white shirt and a white polo neck layered underneath, which finished high under the model’s chin, set the tone. This was a collection that felt done up, sharp and refined. Striped coats in grey and mustard were neatly belted.
Beautifully cut, modern double-breasted suiting sat perfectly against the body. Eveningwear flourishes, flower corsages and silk robes added glamour.
Backstage, Prada said that having done a fun collection last season—Americana meets golf with rhinestones—she wanted this men’s collection to be more serious. “Men’s power” was the starting point, she said. She talked of how dressing “would always be power” and “how for men power can be expressed through elegance and fashion”. In the collection, she identified the high collars and “modern fitting” as key messages this season.
Meanwhile, quotes about “role play” and “a cinematic character study subverting male archetypes and formal codes of dress” appeared in the show notes.
Wearing a rhinestone jacket and popping an anchovy canape into her mouth, Prada explained that she had felt for this show that “maybe we should have a few actors”. All the men the label approached said yes. Gary Oldman closed the show in a stunning double-breasted black evening coat.
The brand is not known for its starry front rows or the general courting of celebrities. But Prada is a designer known for seasonal about-turns, and the inclusion of actors on the catwalk was perhaps this season’s unexpected twist.
After the show, Willem Defoe, wearing a black evening coat, said of his catwalk experience: “It’s different [from walking a red carpet] because it’s a more fluid thing, a very simple action. You have no agenda, you just present yourself and see what the reaction is like.” The reaction was triumphant.
Adrien Brody, still in his catwalk red foulard-style patterned cocktail coat with a contrast astrakhan collar and red lens circular sunglasses, which he had worn with convincing swagger, said he felt “regal” in his outfit. “I really appreciate how clothing can help to transform us,” he said.
Jamie Bell, in a white waistcoat, joked that the catwalk experience had made his heart race. “You realise how short you are. You discover nervous twitches in your face you didn’t know you had, and you don’t know where to look.” But he was taken with his outfit, particularly the sunglasses, which he dubbed a bit “Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers”.
This being Prada, there were many other statement accessories on show - shoes encased in rubber or featuring painted daisies, colourful pens poking out of suit pockets, pins and badges pinned on the fronts of coats or jackets.
This latest collection, with its roots in tailoring and coats, is likely to sell well and continue the brand’s run of good figures. Last year saw Prada sales soar, with a 25% increase reported in the third quarter. The label is expected to open around 80 new stores a year, 50% of them in Asia, until 2013.
This particular set of menswear shows follow a recent report by consultancy Bain & Co, which said that luxury menswear is currently the fastest-growing market.
It estimated that luxury menswear is worth around €180-billion and growing at nearly 14% a year—double the current growth in luxury womenswear.
It is thought that these buoyant figures are being driven chiefly by China’s male-dominated market.
The economic growth in Asia-Pacific countries, such as China and India, looks set to continue to bolster figures for luxury brands across the board.