During couture week in January, Miu Miu hauled fashion journalists to its Parisian store—foregoing the Palais d’Iena for a season—to showcase its pre-fall 2016 collection. (The same time in Paris, other houses were giving secretive presentations with imagery unreleased until the past few weeks). Seeing the show unfold on Instagram was strangely wonderful. The deluge of images that flooded my feed all captured the essence, effervescence of the show. I awaited imagery for a day or two before Vogue Runway finally released the images. It hasn’t happened in a long time that I’ve craved high resolution pictures from a show immediately—mainly due to the instancy of the fashion industry today.
In the jewel-toned setting, models were dreamy 70s spies in knickerbocker suiting, high-stockings and utilitarian garb. Trousers were like shortened lederhosen, perfect for the winter months. Likewise, the overcoats were a personal best for Prada, whose unmatched affinity for coats trumps most other designers. Keri Russell in the fantastic The Americans sprung to mind. The ladies were unassuming, clothes that would slightly stick out in terms of society’s tame dressing. But buried inside was difference, brilliance, and power. There was agency, and we all know Prada loves to conduct using an active agent (in many senses of the word).
Miuccia Prada wasn’t present for the show, she was busy designing the womenswear collections for Fall 2016. If only she was present, she would’ve seen the gleeful reaction of her elated audience. Somehow, I reckon, she knew what the reaction would be.
The reaction invoked by the subsequent womenswear show in March was different. The casting completely outshone the collection. Kendall Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Adriana Lima, Lara Stone and a few other heavyweight names clogged the runway with their star presence. As I said in my article #KenGi’s Presence in Fashion, the show was tremendous, but you can’t help but notice the miscasting. Miu Miu—Prada too—is the one show during fashion where you are delighted to see the fresh new faces, the exclusive girls who haven’t walked—ever; the show starts careers. There were a few models who walked exclusively but everyone’s attention was elsewhere: it certainly wasn’t on the clothing.
“Nobility and misery.” The travelling fashion circus end their final day of the fashion month with the Miu Miu show. “Dressing is what’s left,” Prada told WWD. You couldn’t help but also feel the notion of dressing with what’s left. The juxtaposition between formal and informal was jarring but undoubtedly welcome. Prada captured the fifties exceptionally. It permeated cinema’s archetypal high school girlhood. Rebellious denim jackets with shirts, jackets over skirts; the subverted prom dress. This developed into subverted post-war dressing, where the epoch was determined by the shape of the clothing, argyle and the slightly alertness to the clothing. For the rest of the collection it switched between the two eras, travelling back and forth between them, like a self-reflective novel filling in the pieces of a jigsaw.
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye was the soundtrack for the collection. “Fun” was another word Prada used backstage. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is possibly the best, ironic songs to use as your soundtrack. With the changing, swirling fashion “system”, everyone seems to be starting, quelling or latching onto rumours, sound bites and the like and it felt like a perfect way to finish the tiring fashion month.
Both in Milan and Paris, Miuccia Prada has the opportunity to win over audiences. In Milan, she certainly did that with a culturally-aware tour de force performance for her eponymous label. In Paris, Miu Miu divided opinions, primarily due to its casting but also the lack of intellectual grounding. But like Prada said, it was about having “fun.” And in the maelstrom the fashion industry has become, having “fun” is what we need. Bravo to her for that!
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com