The designers’ sphinx-ily enigmatic position is fair enough. The air of mystery generated by inscrutability is highly stimulating to some. And off-the-cuff comments sometimes get misinterpreted—even if they also lead to dialogue. So we were left with a riddle only partially unlocked by the emailed press release and quotes attributed to the designers that came in after a show that, as you watched it unfold, felt like playing a menswear Wordle.

The first character we cracked was suiting. It came black, skinny in the pant and cropped at the top of cowboy boots. Jackets were single or 1.5-breasted, cut slim and low. Then up popped leather: frisson-making black double-zip short-shorts worn against sleeveless tops and coats. Shortly afterwards the shorts came accented with a series of striped rib knits.

Between look 16 and look 19 came the conceptual meat-and-potatoes via purposefully banal notch collared knee-length four-button coats delivered in leather, gingham and off-white. The models were sometimes double-coated, sometimes single. The shorts underpinned the looks. This coat was a material version of the paper coat that had arrived with the invitation. A colleague had tried his on, and it immediately ripped apart. The paper reflected the set-up: the Fondazione showspace had been laid out like an oversized house interior, whose white walls, gingham curtains and pale brown floor were also made of paper. Was this a prompt to make us consider how matters that seem so substantial and fixed—such as codes of attire or interiors—are fundamentally arbitrary? There still weren’t quite enough characters in play to conclude.

Next up were some leather-edged back-buttoned shirts in shopping bag checks, with craftily naïf ric-rac trims that echoed Prada’s pyramid cipher. There was a brief section of attractive washed denim. Sneakers, cool sneakers, appeared between those Cuban heeled boots. After a brief suity redux and some bottle print T-shirts worn with marginally shorter short-shorts than before, a powerfully normcore beige blouson prefigured a final triptych of looks that played leather against more banal beige coating.

Images courtesy of Prada.