Milan Fashion Week: Prada packs a perfectly organized picnic


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For spring and summer 2012, Prada hit the golf course -– what else could come to the mind when you hear the phrase “geometric outdoors”? The designer said that was the goal of the indoor “field” -– the 600 foam blocks placed on a grid of artificial turf throughout the company’s headquarters and show space on Via Fogazzaro. A description of the space handed out to the media emphasizes the spacing of each foam cube and the strictly choreographed routes each model would take to assure maximum visibility. She described it as having “the audience participate in a perfectly organized picnic.”

But anyone who wasn’t thinking about golf when the show began, must have been by the time a handful of looks had gone by –- what with the red, blue and yellow floral-print golf bags, Prada wingtip shoes with golf-cleat soles and an assortment of headgear and trousers that would have looked right at home on the links.


But Miuccia Prada never tips her hand at anything, and inspiration as straightforward as golfing –- even as the brand readies for a long-awaited IPO on the Hong Kong stock index and golf seems to be the preferred sport of corporate America’s high-rollers -– seems a bit like a red herring to me.

One of the allover prints that appeared on caps, shirts, trousers and jackets was different from the assorted bright florals that appeared in full bloom throughout the collection. It had a kind of late ‘50s, early ‘60s look that could be found just about anywhere, from the lining of kids sleeping bags (usually covered wagons and cowboys) to cocktail shakers (martini glasses and pink elephants) to the wallpaper of dad’s shag-carpeted rumpus room down in the basement (Playboy bunnies, martini glasses and cowboys). The people in Prada’s allover print seemed to be doing all kinds of things -- playing the tuba, doing handstands and sitting beneath a palm tree to name just three.

Whatever they were doing, the figures on the fabric certainly looked busy, and busy might be the best watchword for the entire collection -– at least until I can take a closer look at it. Wildly floral Western-style snap-button shirts sported contrasting floral yokes and button plackets. On solid color versions, the plackets and yoke were framed in rows of chunky jewel-like stones. The uppers of some dress shoes were accented with woven raffia (raffia is having a moment this Milan Fashion Fashion Week), and others had contrasting leather fringe.

A commentary on golf, a metaphor for life, a desire for control over uncontrollable events –- like an IPO or a picnic? No one’s saying, but rest assured that when Prada packs a picnic, you’re guaranteed a feast every time.

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan
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Photo credits: (Top and bottom) Olivier Morin / Getty Images. (Middle) Matteo Bazzi / European Pressphoto Agency