With not a girl in sight, the show’s new format of just men walking Prada’s S/S 18 Menswear runway provided a singularity and a strength. As if we were in a boy’s bedroom, with a 'no girl’s allowed sign' above the door, this playful yet industrial collection was set within a world of comic books that lined the walls. Some of the pictures on the wall were of cats asleep on single beds, and trains passing through local districts. (David Bowie once said that nothing scared him more than suburbia.) A quick examination of some more of the prints on the shirts backstage, after the show, saw one fluorescent print read like a set of dystopian hieroglyphics that warned of mind control - and the kind of 'white heat' perversion that saw us put monkeys in space. Designed by James Jean (a previous Prada collaborator) and Ollie Schrauwen (a Belgian artist), their mood called to mind the artist Ian Emes who created surreal and dystopian animations for Pink Floyd in the seventies.
The invitation, a folded piece of glossy paper, with the words 'Draft Copy' typed on the outside, was delivered placed within a transparent film sleeve. Like a piece of evidence, or a confidential dossier within the world of espionage, it was ominous and near nonsensical. A single black stripe placed across a black expanse of white inside reminded one of Syd Barrett’s white van, which he customised with a single black stripe – and used as Pink Floyd’s first ever tour bus. The kind of utilitarian psychedelia of both Barrett’s white van and Prada’s collection, complete with Rodchenko cum eighties Bowie jumpsuits, nylon bum bags, Velcro fastenings and formal shoes, held parallels. The black and white stripes across the runway, mildly psychedelic and urgent, saw us speeding across and down a rabbit hole of sorts.
The silhouette was stunning. With both high collars and pulled up socks vertically stretching the frame, the ankles fastened with Velcro added to the 'go faster' narrative. Meanwhile, the bum bags created a Georgina Godley subversive derrier, almost akin to a Rei Kawakubo device, giving men a kind of 'Lumps and Bumps' effeminate line. This looked like the kind of shape-shifting silhouette that will inspire other designers – both within menswear and womenswear. Away from the rigidity of the runway walk, the models backstage stood around chatting and checking their phones – and the new shapes looked even more convincing. Mrs Prada has 'shifted the eye' once more. Would this have been possible if there had been womenswear shown on this runway too? With menswear being shown here alone, there was arguably a more contained space within which Mrs Prada could move the needle.