Scene setting: Prada is a label known for a consistency of attitude – it is a label we trust. So when the invite to its A/W 2018 show featured a different address from the usual venue of the brand’s HQ, we were curious. The staging is the preface to whatever is about to be shown. Here, guests walked across the huge forecourt of a vast warehouse on the outskirts of Milan. Passing through plastic curtains, they entered a mammoth space, stacked high with metal shelves onto which large crates and boxes were placed, wrapped in hyper Prada graphics. 

Best in show: for well over two decades the label has set trends. What we now understand to be modern day menswear comes from Prada. Technical fabrics used in classic tailoring; wool suits worn with nylon jackets; boisterous prints dialled up in offbeat hues. This is Prada style. The A/W 2018 collection came like a bolt straight out of the archives. At the fore were the iconic black nylon accessories Miuccia introduced in the mid-eighties upon taking over the family firm. Those bags, purses and backpacks are today synonymous with a utilitarian elegance, an aesthetic rigour. All the opening looks were all-black nylon – padded shirts, shorts, hoodies and wide cargo trousers – complete with the vital, symbolic metal logo badge. They somehow felt like well-loved, long-lost friends. Elsewhere, archive prints from past womenswear collections – the 2011 bananas! The multi print lipsticks from 2000! – were mashed together. This is a Prada renaissance. 

Team work: for the first time ever, pieces in the collection were designed in collaboration with creatives from other design disciplines. The ‘Prada Invites’ initiative invited Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, Herzog & de Meuron and Rem Koolhaas to craft accessories in the illustrious black nylon. The Bouroullec brothers conceived a large artist’s folio with bright blue and yellow leather gussets; Gricic explored the historical use of the fabric, abstracting a fishing vest into a functional, multi-pocket apron, Koolhaas offered an armour-like reinterpretation of the backpack, while Herzog & de Meuron made a relaxed short sleeve shirt, printed with text.