According to Prada Men’s Wear Spring Summer 2018; the lonely, hollow ring accompanying the virtual noises ceaselessly sent into the ether, sounds without echoes: These were some of the unlikely themes linking a bunch of disparate designers here over the past week.
And — surprise! — philosophy and politics are of concern even to those who favor sling-back sneakers and satin for day.
Consider the case of Miuccia Prada, a designer whose sometimes banal efforts come dressed in big ideas. For her show on Sunday, she and her collaborators at Rem Koolhaas’s research and design studio, OMA, restructured and decorated the exhibition space at her headquarters with Ollie Schrauwen and James Jean’s large-scale illustration — rushing locomotives, giant ants from a ’50s horror movie, an ape beaming cosmic rays — inspired by graphic novels.
The stated theme was the urgency of narrative in the virtual age. “If storytelling is the root of all communication,” as the show notes said, “the manner in which we choose to tell them — abstract or complex or simple or direct — is significant.”
Ms. Prada’s métier dictates that hers is an image language. This is a challenge, since, in the stories she tells, translation is often required. There is a limit, of course, to how much one can read into a topcoat. That there were a number of these in herringbone, camel, bird’s eye tweed, in a show of summer men’s wear, was a tale all its own.
Perplexing in other ways were the trousers with high gathered paper-bag waists, vaguely emasculating short shorts, creepy Cliff Huxtable cardigans tucked into waistbands, fanny packs worn at the small of the back, shirts with popped collars reminiscent of Ming the Merciless. Blanche McCrary Boyd, a gifted novelist pal sometimes obliged, like most writers, to take on the occasional well-paying bit of journalism, used to joke of those pieces that they were “not for the collected works.”
You might say the same of Prada’s show on Sunday, were it not for the shirts and assorted garments ornamented with panels repeating the irresistible graphics drawn on the walls. Those were the collectibles, the surefire Prada moneymakers. In a certain sense, that’s all the story you need.