Miu Miu went lady-like. Or so it seemed
Miu Miu has had a good run these past seasons, chalking up considerable social-media exposure with those ultra-mini-skirts, so brief that there were apparently irresistible and must be flaunted. This season, Miuccia Prada walked away from that narrow, horizontal strip of cloth passing off as a skirt and opted for far longer lengths—knee-grazing, in fact. When the first look appeared, it seemed a model of modesty and nudge of neatness. As we examined the ensemble closely (or as closely as our PC screen permitted), there was considerable visual trickery involved. The round-neck cardigan in slate grey was a distraction, not quite a fashion statement. The attention-grabber was below the waist: a sheer, micro-dotted, slim-fit skirt, worn really low. In fact, it appeared to be clinging to the wearer’s hips, exposing the pantyhose, worn high at the waist, where the cardigan was casually tucked, like one would after an unexpected quickie. It helped that the model’s hair was messed up. She trotted urgently on, with a bag carried in the crook of her arm, swinging with comparable urgency. Back to work?
The show was themed Ways of Looking. That could also mean ways of being looked at. But the typical Miu Miu girl—such as those on the front row or Emma Corrin (The Crown) on the runway—probably does not care how anyone looks at her. She is only aware, as she strides on in her kitten heels, of the ways she alone looks at things. Such as how her navel could be exposed, but not quite. Or as Miu Miu explained in their show notes, “the instinctive process of looking, ways of seeing, and how an act of observation can, in turn, transform the object of its focus.” By looking long enough, and the transparent is not? By staring and the discomfiture is gone? Most of the looks Ms Prada sent out could be described as pants-less (even when leggings were worn). In fact, the last three models (Ms Corrin among them) appeared in just plain turtlenecks and crystal-encrusted granny panties. Will the fancy underpants be outerwear when we look hard enough too? Or, perhaps just look intently and the intention could be unintended?
The beauty of this collection was that almost ‘normcore’ clothes (yes, they’re around) could be given a spin and made sexy. That was the shrewdness of Miu Miu (and Prada too). Marketeers like to call such exercises “elevating” the basics. But much of what Miu Miu elevated was hosiery—pulled up high so that they sit above whatever bottom chosen or under more panties, acting like a sheer canvas. That said, panty-baring was very much part of the game. But, you could really turn out these looks with what already exists in your wardrobe. Just pull this down, yank that up. When pant-less was not the effect, the look was decidedly masculine, even hulking (see the jackets). In fact, some male models were used in the show, but whether the clothes were indeed part of a revisited menswear line, it is isn’t clear. Miu Miu reportedly preferred to describe the looks as gender-fluid. Was that why the guys were clothed in women’s cardigans? But négligée styles were very much a part of the line-up too, many embroidered or appliquéd. Would those diaphanous dresses be sold as gender-fluid too?
The show was staged in the Palais d’Iéna (next to the Trocadéro Gardens), constructed in the 1930s, and one of the three buildings that was kept standing after the Universal Exhibition of 1937. Although the palais is noted for its “classical style”, the Miu Miu show space was set up to effect some industrial exposition (or an outdoor concert?), complete with visible aluminum posts of the modular truss system and flat screen monitors suspended above the narrow, raised runway. The looped video shown on the screens was a curious, repetitive, Warholian performance by the Korean artist Jeong Geum-hyung, who, with hands above various garments, was basically caressing herself. All this to the show’s soundtrack of upbeat jazzy tunes. Miu Miu described the artist-provocateur’s act as “examining the relationship between her own body and clothing”. That was indeed one of the Ways of Looking.
Screen shot (top) and photos: Miu Miu