The future is now

Prada SS18
Fashion | 18 June 2017

Prada’s never on the bandwagon. While several designers in Milan were looking back to the 90s, Miuccia this season shifted her gaze to the future, with a menswear collection inspired by virtual reality.

It has roots in what’s currently on at the Fondazione Prada, the brand’s magnificent concrete art space in Milan: an interactive exhibition produced by director Alejandro González Iñárritu, where visitors wear VR headsets and step into the shoes of immigrants making their way from Mexico to the US. It’s not the first time the Oscar-winning filmmaker has worked with Prada, having last year curated a season of of his favourite films to run at the space. But Carne y Arena (Flesh and Sand, as the new installation is called) is the first time the Fondazione has included a VR dimension to its experience. What with headsets now readily available to own and some film festivals beginning to include whole sections for VR films, it’s clear the future will be increasingly virtual. And this is the point Miuccia seemed to be making with her spacey cast.

They wore belted and cuffed boiler suits, like interplanetary voyagers, often unzipped to reveal a starch-collared shirt beneath. Versions of the latter felt a tad 70s (classic Prada, that retro-futurism), drawing a line with the collection’s eerie cartoon motif – a day in the life of laser-eyed monkeys. Mixed in were more commercial pieces (oversized tailored coats, graphic macs and colour-blocked knitwear) and more accessible items attractive to a younger consumer with limited spend capacity (little cartoon-covered clutches, and knee-high socks – worn with studded sandals, an iconic Prada styling cue).

Trying to interpret Miuccia Prada’s shows is always a season highlight. The brand doesn’t provide show notes – no clues – so analysing how the designer’s myriad influences from the worlds of art, politics, film, architecture etc. could have informed her collection is like trying to decipher a futile riddle. But have a go this season and you might scratch the surface of the sci-fi VR idea to find something more real world. If we consider social media, the internet, Netflix and so on as a non real world experience (which we should), then how much of our daily lives do we spend hooked up to some form of ‘virtual reality’ already?

Yes, Miuccia Prada’s work is often preoccupied with the future, but her subversive interpretations often end up looking a lot like the past or the present. That’s not by accident. It’s her clever way of reminding us of the nature of our own realities, and the impact our technologies, thoughts and actions have on ourselves and the world around us. All the while serving us something that feels a bit fantasy, something to aspire to. It’s tasty food for thought.

GALLERYBackstage at this show

GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show