"I wanted to do something that was simply human," Miuccia Prada said of her heroic spring/summer 18 collection, rooted in comic books.
This article was originally published by i-D UK.
Few things illustrate the simplicity of human mentality better than its invention of superheroes. Created during the Great Depression and throughout World War II, you don't have to be a genius to see why we dreamed up Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, or why superheroes have experienced such a blockbuster resurgence since 9/11. We're dying to be saved — in the real world and beyond. It's why the reporters of fashion cluster around Miuccia Prada after her shows to hear her messianic message, hoping her trusty ingenuity will save us in the end; provide some sort of answer to a question unposed. "I think we live in a double world, no?" Mrs. Prada offered on Sunday evening in Milan. "And that's what's interesting: the dialogue between the two worlds. One side is virtual reality and the other side is the human part." She'd looked to comic books in her own search for answers in her spring/summer 18 menswear, but unlike Marvel and DC, what she found was the opposite of superpowers and escapism. "Human, simple, and real," she kept reiterating. "I wanted to do something that was simply human. Human stories."
It filtered through in a refreshing sense of the uncomplicated: techy boiler suits, cuffed nylon trousers, cardigans, and formal coats — the only formal component in the collection, which otherwise retained a constant conversation with 50s youth culture in winklepickers, nipped-in waists, and quiffed hair. It was casual and easy. The set at via Foggazarro was covered in comics Prada had commissioned from artists, asking them "to do stories that wouldn't be too superhero but actually push the human part." Her message was clear: reality over fantasy, and you didn't need to huddle around her backstage to understand it. This was clear-cut fashion, garments made easy, styled up with the occasional fanny pack (you know you'll want one) and the odd knee-high superhero sock. This season Prada read the minds of her audience before they knew what they were thinking, and she hit the nail on the head: in fashion, as in life, now is the time for perfecting the material world rather than expanding those virtual realities.
Milan's 50s moment for spring/summer 18 continued at Dsquared2 on Sunday night where Dean and Dan Caten lived out their wildest high school dreams in a meeting between punks and prom kings that had all the beatnik buckles and shirt frills a young Elvis Presley could have dreamed of. Whenever the 50s come back in style, we like to put it down to a kind of blinkers view of the world: an attempt to repeat the pleasant bubble that was the 50s, a post-war society on the up where perfection was a virtue. But this season, as both Prada and Marni demonstrated, there are cracks in the immaculate 50s surface. The shirts are fraying, the quiffs begin to deflate. At MSGM, Massimo Giorgetti's American West Coast dream remained intact, but even here the floral prints were faded, the colors more muted, the knits that bit grungier. The spring/summer 18 men's season may be looking to another time, but it's got its feet planted firmly in reality.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams