The idea of Voyage keeps on coming back on the Prada runway. Remember last season? The outstandingly beautiful collection with sailors travelling through the past to tell us the story of the world. Hard to surpass this powerful tour de force! For the Spring Summer 2017 season, Miuccia Prada is still inspired by the journey theme but she went in a totally different direction; as the soundtrack by Frederick Sanchez is suggesting, this is a Summer of Love trip this time, a 90's rave party all over the world with models walking to the beats of Madonna's Bedtime Story, Björk's Army Of Me & Air's Faithless.
Youth is a central theme for this SS17 collection. The innocence of young people, their ability to do whatever they want as long as they are just enjoying the present day. Carpe Diem in a way. But here this is not a hedonistic point of view, just a way to tell us to enjoy the day because tomorrow everything might fall apart, our present world is so uncertain. So, of course young people could dance to these 90's beats, taking a break from our sick sad world but they could also be ready to go if necessary, packing everything they own & need in giant backpacks. This is the comeback of the backpacks at Prada and this is anything but innocent. As we have already said, our world is uncertain just like the future of the legendary Italian fashion house. Customers are hard to decipher these days and though Miuccia's collections are always glorified & cheered, the sales figures are not that good. Bringing back the backpacks, that made Prada something much more than a leather good maker is perhaps an attempt to bring the "mojo" in. Actually, these bags stand for many things in this collection. They could be taken literally; something to pack things to go, for instance, to a festival where good music & positive vibes are on the agenda but they also stand for the weight of our world. Our youth is in charge of the world's future and it is sometimes a beyond heavy weight to carry. How can you peacefully deal with it these days? It is impossible. Sometimes, when you see how things are going, you just want to leave everything behind and walk far far away from all this crap. However, this collection should not be seen as a dark portrayal of the current situation, it should still be a celebration of youth, its strength, its restlessness, its irreverence (we deeply need irreverence!), its unpredictable character, its adaptability. Youth is the key. The cure. The solution.
This season, the Prada silhouette is built upon the idea of a wardrobe of survival i.e what to wear when you're travelling in a world of uncertainties, what to pack, what are the things you have to take with you to make you feel comfortable & secure. Once again, the giant backpacks stand for this new house you're carrying with you and it also stands for your past; what are the things you really want to take? Do you really need them? Everything you need to leave is in this bag or attached to it; a bit like Hermione Granger in The Deathly Hallows or Mary Poppins. To go with this backpack strong symbolism, Miuccia imagined a functional wardrobe infused with a strong sense of "nomadism". Clothes to make you feel comfortable & free either for a music festival, hitchhiking, a trekking around the world or for an apocalyptic exodus. A utilitarian wardrobe reinforced by the styling essentially composed of a layering of clothes, accessories & prints, a piling of things to be ready to move fast, to be the perfect universal traveler. A utilitarian wardrobe infused with a sporty attitude; windbreakers in tech fabrics just like track pants that seem to be made out of parachute, perfectly resistant. Some looks composed of survival blankets, long johns, socks & sandals really convey this impression of a global wanderer looking for somewhere safe. Denim & nylon are also largely used throughout this collection along with some other tech materials looking like satin, perfect to face the most intense showers or the most violent storms.
Once again, you shouldn't consider this Prada collection as deeply pessimistic regarding our world's future because it is above all a powerful message of unity & diversity. First, thanks to the perfect casting mixing all kind of beauties & colours. Then thanks to the incredible styling of Olivier Rizzo and to the perfectly mastered mixing of fabrics, influences & prints; judge by yourself, checks (some almost like madras), flowers, very Prada naive prints (palm-trees, huts, elephants, Buddhas, pineapples, The Taj Mahal, zithers, bananas, cars, Mariachi players and the list is still long!) & the standout print composed of Google weather maps of the Earth temperature! [For more detailed pictures of these crazy prints, visit Vogue Runway!] The goal of this collection is bringing the world together; we are all part of the same world and we should deal with it without even thinking of this damn concept of borders! Diversity is what makes our planet so beautiful and people should never listen to the extremist & racist sirens telling them that individuality & an inward-looking attitude are the keys (Brexit advocates we are looking at you right now!). Every garment, every accessory convey this idea that mixing is beautiful. Ok, things may not always match together but the result is still beautiful. Don't forget that Miuccia Prada is the Empress of "Ugly Chic", she has the incredible power to redefine our vision of beauty collection after collection. Sometimes, it looks odd or kitsch but our eyes are still attracted to this weirdness and after a few minutes (even seconds sometimes), we can't help looking at this as if it were the most delicious thing we had ever seen. This is almost a mystical power. Just like a shaman, she turns our preconceived ideas into a powerful tolerance speech.
As Madonna sings in Bedtime Story, "Let's get unconscious" and above all, let's forget about all these concrete or abstract boundaries, we are all building. Our world could be more beautiful if people could live together & accept each other. This may sound completely utopian or gullible but sometimes, the most obvious things should be reasserted and stated loud & clear. So don't be cynical or sarcastic, forget about all the clichés rotting your mind and just enjoy the show. Live, Love, Laugh and if you can, wear Prada clothes like weapons of Acceptance.
Words by Yann Sackville-West & Charles Margueritte