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Prada SS17 Menswear
Prada SS17 MenswearPhotography Virginia Arcaro

Prada’s ravers make a case for a united world

Exploring the deeper meaning behind the brightly-hued camping hats, sandals, windbreakers and waterproofs of the house’s SS17 collection

When it comes to Prada, there’s always more to its collections than meets the eye. Yesterday, in a chainlink-constructed set illuminated by a rainbow of neon lights, Miuccia Prada sent models packing – literally. With colourful camping hats, sandals, windbreakers and waterproofs, as well as torches around their necks, and water bottles hanging from waistbands, they looked set for a weekend of raving – helped along by the soundtrack of 90s dance anthem “Insomnia”. The majority of models wore backpacks hung with extra pouches and with straps that crossed around the waist, as well as a spare jacket and even an alternative pair of formal shoes attached. “In case you want to have a beautiful evening,” Mrs Prada said with a smile.

It’s the second season in a row that the designer has explored the idea of travel – AW16 was a historic, violently beautiful vision of sea-tossed sailors, their clothes pulled asunder, collars askew, naturally prompting comparisons to the migrant crisis. With issues of immigration continuing to divide Europe, it’s still a relevant theme, and Prada weighed in by discussing the benefits that journeying brings – an expanded worldview, the sharing and joining of cultures. Such could be found in the childlike buddha, palm tree and mariachi band prints borrowed from Iceland, Mexico, and India, as well as maps taken straight from Google Earth. “The core goal is to share with other people," Prada asserted. "Other cultures, other mentalities.”

“The backpack – where you put your home, your shelter. Just in case there are difficult times” – Miuccia Prada

But the idea of a coming storm was there, too – some garments were printed with weather forecasts that saw the red eye of a hurricane beginning to form. If last season was about the crossing oceans, this was arriving on land – carrying your possessions on your back, forging a new path into the unknown. As Prada warned: “The backpack – where you put your home, your shelter. Just in case there are difficult times.” These weren't just festival campers or gap-year-goers – also present was the idea of travel for other reasons, in the form of a soldier like green suit and a series of more sombre looks (matched by Björk’s “Army of Me”, which fittingly kicked off the Frédéric Sanchez composed soundtrack). Of course, the collection was a visual feast, beautiful on the surface, and easy to appreciate aesthetically. But it's the way Prada uses clothes to translate meaning at a deeper level that makes her work so special. Backstage, she emphasised that this season was focused on the present, the now – if you were willing to listen, these clothes spoke volumes about the nature of our world today.