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Backstage at Prada SS17 MFW Dazed
Backstage at Prada SS17Photography Virginia Arcaro

Fashion, film and retro-futurism collide at Prada SS17

Collaborating with film director David O Russell, Miuccia Prada mixes the past, present and future at her Milan Fashion Week show

‘Thinking fashion’ is a term that Prada often use to describe themselves, and it’s spot-on. When you watch a show, your brain needs to be alert, your focus fine-tuned to the intricacies of a collection. Which is why the presentation of last night’s SS17 collection was something of a curveball – it wasn’t only the clothes that guests had to concentrate on, but a film too, beamed across several enormous screens that hung above the silver chainlink runway. You were left to absorb them both, your brain bouncing between the fragmented, surreal film imagery and the collection. It was disorientating, and probably intentionally so.

Continuing her long history of working in the realms of art and film, the short was part of a collaboration between Miuccia Prada and David O Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook), and comprised of scenes taken from their upcoming project Past Forward, set to be released in October. In it, three female protagonists enacted the same scenes – from the intimate (undressing or kissing) to the obsessive (rummaging through letters) and the anxious (running through a station terminal). It was a visual collage, a story that was destabilised, which undermined and contradicted itself. Who were these women? Where were they going and why? Which narrative was the one to be believed?

“I decided that I want to take care of now, the present, and do something much more simple. I tried to find a new way of elegance” – Miuccia Prada

‘Past Forward’ was also an apt descriptor for the collection. “I decided that I want to take care of now, the present,” Miuccia Prada said backstage, echoing the sentiment she expressed after the last menswear show, “and do something much more simple. I tried to find a new way of elegance.” But in order to firmly ground yourself in the present, you must look to the past, and that is what Mrs Prada did here – rather than embrace the futuristic, she was far more retrospective. Patterns felt like those you might expect on supermarket checkout girl shirts from days gone by, while silhouettes included vintage high-waisted briefs, cheongsam collars and sweater vests, while marabou feathers and large medallion necklaces comprised accessories.

Where the most recent Prada collections have featured everything from metallic lips to notebooks, sailor hats, and backpacks with torches and spare shoes hanging off of them, here that simplicity Prada mentioned was key. And while SS17 was a look back into familiar Prada-isms, supported by a cast of models that included faces from iconic campaigns and shows, like Raquel Zimmermann, Amanda Murphy and Arizona Muse, the collection wasn’t a nostalgia trip. It took elements of the past and updated them for the present, bringing what’s gone before firmly into the contemporary. Past Forward, remember?