It is all too rarely that I get to be ahead of a Prada designer in terms of fashion, but on the important trend of the season I was on it years before Raf Simons. At the Prada show in Paris last week, he had creases and wrinkles in clothes from short shift dresses and midi skirts to grey all-in-ones. It’s part of a larger trend in fashion away from ironing.
After the show, Simons observed that the creases in his clothes were “gestures of error” designed to replicate “pieces that have had a life”. I wish that I had thought of that whenever I tried to leave home without pressing my dress and my mother would ask me whether I was actually trying to look like a pauper. “It is”, I should have said, “a gesture of error”. But being ahead of my time, people where I come from would simply have assumed that I was a lazy slattern. That’s the price you pay for being too fashion-forward.
I should love to embrace the new trend, like the editor of the fashion magazine Circle Zero Eight, Gary Armstrong, who doesn’t own an iron.
But my reluctant advice is, hang onto yours. Because this trend, like so many others on the catwalk, works when you’re a model: frankly, Bella Hadid could wear sackcloth and make it sell. But for the rest of us, creased clothes do not look like “pieces that have had a life”; they look like you got up too late to make yourself respectable. And if it’s linen rather than cotton we’re talking about, forget it: this is a material that looks creased even when ironed. You’ll look rubbish at work and only a very small number of cognoscenti will realise the slept-in look is intentional.
I know what you’re thinking: easy care, non-iron shirts, here we come. Marks & Spencer introduced them in 1996 to the relief of a grateful nation and it’s now their most popular kind of formal shirt. Me, I think most easy-care fabrics look way less good than a crisp ironed shirt. But it’s a chore; those who find ironing mindful are welcome to mine. I say, get an expensive iron with a water reservoir which means you steam your way through the pile quicker.
There is, however, one route out of ironing, and that’s woollen suits. If you hang them up after wearing and steam them occasionally, you can get away without ironing anything except a shirt front. Yet I’m not sure Prada are going to embrace tweed just yet. Sorry.