Prada S/S 2017

Explorers sans Frontieres

Not that many people know that in her youth, Miuccia Prada’s favorite pastime was to dress up in Lederhosen and roam the Alps. Which was the starting point for a mega epic Prada menswear runway show staged on a day of sunny showers in Milan.

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Rough weather parkas and foam sandals were seen all over the runway

A new rugged Prada man – and several women – marched forth in this collection. Many dressed in nylon rough weather parkas, hiking pants and terribly chic high-mountain boots, or high-density foam sandals. Though finished not Timberland style in rugged leathers, but done with sherbet horizontal stripes. Nearly every guy carried a backpack, very much the accessory of this season. However, Miuccia’s versions were truly massive; and from each bag hung camping lamps, tin cans, and even neoprene diver’s boots.

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Thermal image print on parkas

Emphasizing the sense of exploration, the parachute nylon raingear came in bold prints – made of space-station photos of earth and practically glowing heat sensitive prints. Backed up by a sensationally anthem-like, mash-up soundtrack by maestro DJ Frederic Sanchez where Bjork and Madonna competed, before climaxing with Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb. There was something heroic about the cast, and indeed this whole show. Once again, Prada produced an eye boggling set, a giant space built of metallic fences with two huge ramps for a runway – like the entrance to some plutonium mine in a far distant galaxy.

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The terribly chic adventurer à la Miuccia Prada

We are in the midst of a dark moment for our democracies – France crippled by strikes and fearful of more attacks; Britain split down the middle by Brexit; Italy barely breaking out of recession; and America facing a possible Donald Trump presidency. Almost pathetically the response of most designers so far this season has been to seek sanctuary in gay, brightly colored party clothes, in an almost desperate moment of forced gaiety.

Not at Prada, where this new outdoors individual spoke of people marching determinedly against the current. Keen to be fit and noble.

Ready to go on a hike
Ready to go on a hike in wildly printed outfit with diver’s boots

“I’d like people to keep exploring the whole world. Not building barriers across it,” said Miuccia, chatting at the dinner of the season – a supper of vegetable risotto and fried shrimp for the great and the good of menswear. A series of concentric tables, where the likes of Jessica Chastain, Milla Jovovich, Kasia Smutniak, Willem Dafoe and Carine Roitfeld dined in a huge, square glass space at the center of Fondazione Prada. Looking out at the remarkable art space Miuccia and Patrizio Bertelli have created, keeping their curiosity about other cultures and people very much alive. Just like the clothes in this important show and collection.