As a designer, Miuccia Prada is nothing if not forward thinking. It was she who spawned so many trends we take for granted today, from the “It bag” phenomenon – the origins of which can be traced back to Prada’s 1980s hit nylon backpack – to the post-modern preoccupation with “ugly-pretty” designs such as artfully wrinkled tights and socks worn with sandals. But while Prada’s ability to predict trends could not be any stronger, profits have waned in recent years, a situation created in part, so the analysts say, because the business’s retail arm has been slow to embrace modernity.
Sunday night’s menswear show in Milan, then, was a good time to demonstrate her understanding of the most contemporary of subjects: virtual reality. Or, as she put it backstage, the fact that we all now occupy “a double world, between virtual reality on one side, and reality on one side”, our lives continually interrupted and fragmented by the internet and the media. Her reaction to this feeling was to create a collection rooted in the basics of clothes, in the way they touch and react to the body. It was, she said, “the opposite of virtual reality – hand-made, simple”.
Nothing is ever straightforward in Prada’s world, however, and her “simple” collection was not homespun in the obvious sense. If anything, models looked like technicians in the world’s most stylish space station, stalking the catwalk in nylon jumpsuits (“my new obsession”, she said) and in cuffed sporty trousers in peppermint and navy.