Lately it feels like we are being sold something at every moment of our lives. I don’t just mean pants or coats or boots or whatever, but big ideas. Philosophies. Values. Principles! Buying a mattress isn’t merely the purchase of the foam slab you need to sleep at night, but an opportunity for “awakening the potential of a well-rested world.” Shirts aren’t merely shirts, but objects to soothe men allegedly left flummoxed by a newly casual world. Last week, fashion brands claimed that buying a T-shirt could help us save Australia: buy less, but still buy ours. It makes me think of Lloyd Dobler—the original Bernie Bro—in Say Anything: “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” Honey, me neither!
The feeling has been bubbling for months, but all of it hit like a lightning bolt when I looked at photos from Prada’s Fall/Winter 2020 show, staged in Milan on Sunday. First, because it was about working, and how we want to look when we do that—“It’s to give respect to work, to effort, to fatigue, and to what is difficult,” Mrs. Prada said backstage. There were well-suited guys carrying briefcases, and nifty business-casual knits paired with classic Prada slim trousers, and that most classic working guy staple, the sweater vest, all in the freaky muted tones for which we rely on Prada. But second, there was a crisp ideology in the lack of styling: the coats were buttoned up, and the sweater vests shown without shirting underneath, so that each look expressed just one idea, just one product. This is a coat, this is a vest, this is a suit, and do you need a new bag? Fashion designers, Mrs. Prada reminded us, are here to give us great clothes to buy, not vague and sprawling morals to buy into. It was brilliant; it was a relief.
It’s a frisky time to make a collection about labor, when everyone feels overworked and underpaid. But this was no celebration of your job as your identity; rather, it undercut our propensity to over-ascribe meaning and value to everything we do. In the center of Prada’s box-shaped runway was an equestrian statue, care of longtime Mrs. Prada consigliere Rem Koolhaas—the kind cities used to plunk in the middle of a square to say, “Well! Isn’t he great for killing all those guys,” and that citizens increasingly decide doesn’t feel representative of their town—only this one was done in cardboard. “Totally non-heroic,” as Mrs. Prada described it.
As for the men parading around this figure of farcical victory, Mrs. Prada said the intention was “not heroic, but heroes,” adding that “I want to give a hope that in this [chaotic world], if you do well your job, paired with intelligence, and with culture, then this already is something.” That notion, combined with the unadorned elegance of the clothes, was a refreshing rejoinder: you don’t have to be a brand, and you don’t have to change the world through every purchase you make. Your clothing doesn’t need to have a “higher purpose” other than the one that clothing was created for, and your job doesn’t have to be who you are. You can wear this perfect, slightly oversized corduroy coat, and take some time on the weekends or during your lunch hour to see some art, and ask interesting questions of smart friends. You’re doing great.
Source : Rachel Tashjian Link