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23rd February 2024

Devils wear Prada: A retrospective look at the iconic F/W 2012 menswear collection

With the 2024 fashion calendar now in full swing and the hype of the BAFTA’s still present, we reflect on one of the most cinematic catwalks in fashion history
Devils wear Prada: A retrospective look at the iconic F/W 2012 menswear collection
Credit: Ming chow @ Pexels

Shakespeare may have been the one to say “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women are merely players,” but Miuccia Prada was the one to bring this statement to life, choosing the Fall 2012 Menswear collection to do so. In this collection, “Mrs. Prada crafted Chekhov patriarchs returning from their summer dachas to stalk the halls of power.”  

What was once a downtown Milan auditorium, Miuccia Prada had transformed into a gothic Italian palace, like Stanley Kubrick’s design for the ballroom in The Shining. Classic film codes were found everywhere, making this fashion show a grand theatrical event.

The auditorium had been consumed by an enormous 20×35 metre, blood-red rug which stood out against the classic Italian architecture. Multiple chandeliers were hung from the ceiling, many would compare them to the ones seen in The Phantom of the Opera. Overall, Prada wanted to convey a sense of power over the audience, making them feel small – creating the classic antagonist vs. protagonist theme with the audience. 

Models began manically stomping through the Soviet-era Kremlin interiors, accompanied by the soundtrack of Michael Nyman’s music from The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. Many described the models as characters, much like those from John le Carré spy novels, however, “Instead of sliding briefcases across park benches at clandestine rendezvous points in Belgrade or Gdansk, here they were walking a runway in Milan.”   

Interestingly, Prada decided to convey East German-inspired fashion in this collection with multiple Eastern Bloc Military looks. As described in the show review for Vogue, “The formality of the collection offered exactly the sort of clothes you could imagine them wearing: double-breasted suits buttoned high, astrakhan-collar coats, pinstriped jackets with a flower in the buttonhole.”

The clothes radiated a sense of generational wealth, men with this style would have valets and live in the biggest mansions – recognisable as an Edwardian Gentleman’s Gentlemen. However, Prada did not comply with classic sartorial historicism. The sartorial aspect applied only to the silhouette, and nothing was as it seemed. The formal clothes were cut from denim. Shirts featured secret baroque rows, and what looked like white turtleneck sweaters were mock turtlenecks against a t-shirt. The theme of deception was reflective of the behaviour of villains.  

It can be said that the most memorable feature of this show, however, was the nine Hollywood villains that joined the models towards the end of the show. Some of these villains included: Gary Oldman, best known for his role of Norman Stansfield in Léon: The Professional, Willem Dafoe known as Green Goblin in Spider-Man, and Tim Roth also seen as Emil Blonsky in The Incredible Hulk.

These actors were in character as they shadily walked down the carpet, making daunting eye contact with the audience. Garrett Hedlund displayed Billy Darley’s iconic smirk from Kevin Bacon’s Death Sentence, whereas Adrian Brody expressed a typical Wes Anderson villain wearing orange-tinted glasses with a jacquard orange coat lined fur. 

Muccia Prada directed this show to be a “Parody of male power,” which she did perfectly. The feeling of power was palpable throughout all aspects of this show, which is something that is yet to be outdone by any other brand.  

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