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Prada SS16 Menswear Womenswear show Milan Spring Summer
Backstage at Prada SS16Photography Virginia Arcaro

How to be post-modest – fashion’s latest anti-trend

After Miuccia Prada debuted her SS16 collection, the ‘new normcore’ was the talk of Milan menswear – here’s how to get the look

Selfies, humblebragging, Tweeting what we had for breakfast – we’re living in the age of overexposure, where our constant sharing means that digital narcissism is the norm. But when the world is looking one way, Miuccia Prada has a habit of pulling our current cultural gaze in the opposite direction – and that’s exactly what she did at her last show. For her SS16 menswear and womenswear cruise collections – sent down the runway last month in Milan – she threw our epoch of self obsession into sharp relief, declaring bluntly backstage that modesty no longer exists. Calling her collection “post-modest”, her clothes were a discussion of the way we navigate a world of brand endorsements, hashtags and Insta-famous icons. Quickly dubbed the new normcore, here’s how you can get the look – and the lifestyle.

EMBRACE THE SURFACE LEVEL

As normcore rebelled against our need to use clothing to stand out, subverting our era of “Look at me!” street style with a total embrace of Middle America homogeneity, post-modesty mocks our desire to impress others with brand names and logos by reducing them to “stupid, infantile” graphics. Rejecting symbols (Prada doesn’t like them) for the surface level – bunny rabbits, rockets and racecars all came splashed across the collection – the designer commented on our fixation with blatant advertising.

BE SELF-AWARE, BUT NOT TOO SERIOUS

Of course, post-modesty is thinking fashion, so you better be prepared to justify your look – wearing a jumper with a rocket on it because you like spaceships doesn’t quite cut it. The post-modest dresser is intellectual without being pretentious, using their wardrobe to interpret and interact with the world we live in, and steers clear of taking things too seriously. While designers may have turned to quoting postmodern philosophy in their show notes, Prada’s new trendsetters have ditched the highbrow to embrace the low. Take the canapes served at the show as an example – alcoholic ice lollies. 

ELEVATE THE ORDINARY

Stripping away the 80s associations of clip on earrings, the schoolboy memories of rumpled socks and the PE kit nostalgia of plimsoles, Prada’s collection made the ordinary extraordinary with detail and precision. Calling the collection post-pop and post-industrial, Prada borrowed style codes of the past – like 70s sportswear and Soviet chic – and remixed them for the present. She also reimagined the utility of the industrial, supersizing eyelets, which cropped up as polkadots on skirts, and upscaling chunky silver chains – giving them new life as the straps on bags. 

BE INTENTIONALLY UNDONE

“It costs me a lot of money to look this cheap” – so said Dolly Parton, and it’s an ethos that can be reimagined for post-modesty: “It takes a lot of effort to look this effortless”. This style is a state of mind, not just a mode of dress – your rejection of fashion’s primped and primed poseurs can be read everywhere from your messy hair and haphazard shirt collars to your purposefully rumpled socks, too-long sleeves and untucked shirts. Most importantly, your clothes aren’t perfectly tailored – in fact they quite often don’t fit very well at all, and that’s the point. Channel inspiration from life as a slightly gawky 11-year-old, in a school uniform your mum promised you’d grow into.

LIVE THE LIFESTYLE

On your coffee table should be Selfish by Kim Kardashian, because what’s less modest (and more self-aware) than publishing an entire book of pictures of yourself, by yourself? Take the eye prints that covered the collection as a cue to familiarise your bookshelf with dystopias, and when it comes to cinema, opt for directors with a fondness for making cameos in their own films. We live in 2015 after all, so don’t reject social media – just don’t use hashtags, and steer well clear of a follow4follow.