Back to the Future
If Mrs P’s last menswear collection took Prada into unusually organic and even nostalgic territory (all autumnal corduroy, bohemian hats and the occasional pagan talisman), then SS18 was a resounding return to the kind of nylon-clad subversion on which Miuccia built her empire. This time that meant the world understood through the fragmented frames of comic books – specially commissioned graphics were plastered over the walls of the show space, leaving no doubt as to where this season found its starting point. In some ways, that influence was understood very literally: through destined for street-style-buzz bags and loudly patterned shirts decorated with graphic novel stories. The classic Prada blouson also got the cell-shaded treatment, reimagined with both long and short sleeves and found more often than not, tucked into technical trousers.
And what trousers they were. Some in superhero reds, others in the house’s signature grey nylon, many with elasticated waists and branded velcro label tabs. Then, surprisingly, came a slew of flat fronts in elegant herringbone wool with giant turn-ups. That streak of sartorial classicism in an otherwise proudly synthetic collection was augmented with mid-century favourites like striped camp collar shirts, mock neck knitted T-shirts, and wooly cardigans. Not to mention softly cut overcoats in velvety shades of black, camel and marly grey. No surprise given that Prada has long thrived on jarring contrasts and in the gaps and fissures that defy coherence and convention: though perhaps these elements were less heterogeneous than they seemed. After all, isn’t there something very 50s Americana in colliding bowling shirts and the space age optimism of comic books?
Which nicely explains the predominance of jumpsuits this season. Tabbed at the ankle and pushed up at the sleeves, they were utilitarian and minimalist, but also playful and campy; the uniform of choice for henchmen in a super villain’s lair. Similarly off-beat were drastically truncated sports shorts worn with knee length socks and two-tone derbies. And the accessories? Giant bum bags worn (true to their name, if not to convention) at the rear and superfluous skinny leather belts swivelled to the side. Between all the eclectic styling and exposed thighs, the apparent paradoxes and popped collars, however, what shined through most powerfully was that these were exciting, agenda-setting clothes that simply couldn’t have been made by anybody else. Suffice to say, watch out for boys in boiler-suits next summer.