Neil Barrett returned to the minimalist, uniform dressing he pioneered in the 1990s while designing menswear at Prada — and he’s still a rabid fan of 30 years on.
“I would wear everything on the board,” he said backstage before the show, which marked a return to the Milan runway for his signature label, established in 1999, after a hiatus of a few years.
Indeed, a visitor pointed out that his taut gray short-sleeved sweater, layered over a white T-shirt so just the right amount peeks out from the collar and hem, was nearly identical to look 11 in his run-of-show.
Those who remember Barrett’s Prada days felt a sense of déjà vu as his layers of gray suiting and knits whisked between the steel benches at his concrete bunker of a headquarters in Milan. The tailoring was boxier, although the tall boots were ringers for ones from the earliest days of his fashion house.
Still, the designer still managed to find new things to say within his narrow vocabulary of camp shirts, shirt jackets, formal tailoring and dressy shorts. Cardigans were revisited in gray sweatshirt material, with hoodie-style pockets, and utility shirts, some with epaulettes, came in searing yellow or acid green.
Details from carpenter jeans appeared on his tailored shorts, while metal snap closures enlivened a silky blouson.
Such spare clothes don’t throw off many sparks on a runway, and the show could have benefited from peppier music.
Still, Barrett was happy to step away from the collection videos and other formats he experimented with during the pandemic.
“It was so much more difficult to do a presentation — lengthy and more time-consuming,” he noted. “Shows seem so much more logical, simple and pleasurable.”