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Prada’s menswear collection 2016

First, the set. Compressed plywood arranged in a geometric block pattern, like a particularly strange, echoing De Stijl barn. Secondly, the sensory experience; models dragging themselves woefully across the catwalk and the soundtrack of Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s eerie “Where the Wild Roses Grow”. As a show of haunting beauty evolved, it quickly became clear – this was one of Miuccia’s best in years.

With Mrs Prada a theme is never a theme; any reference is glancing, never overt or obvious – nothing as easy as that for the audience, because Prada’s rationale behind a collection is as enigmatic as Mona Lisa’s smile. She gives nothing away.

So the naval elements that infused the designer’s collection at the Milan men’s shows – the sailor caps and tops – were melded with other, harder to precis touches. The rustic leather tops with laces dangling at the collar, the washed denim (had it been found forgotten on the shore?), the print of a kissing couple embracing, like the cover of a Mills & Boon novel, the scalloped-effect multi-coloured knit all had a weathered feel, distressed with mismatched buttons, frayed elements, jackets half slung on.

There could have been something of the midwest in Prada’s solid leather coats with oversized buttons and checked jackets, but backstage she told reporters that “immigration, assassination” was on her mind. You could scratch your head for hours trying to decipher that meaning but a sense of things coming undone – as just one example look at the deconstructed collars on shirts – seemed to be the message on the catwalk. A model in an voluminous white shirt with Vermeer-esque bloom print on it, the collars and cuffs hanging at curious angles and cut into – look almost ghostly in what was truly a most thought-provoking and poetic show.

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