Miuccia Prada likes to have the last word at Paris Fashion Week with Miu Miu – the last word that the fashion industry collectively revels in. Before you’ve even seen a single outfit, a Miu Miu show already puts you in a giddy mood: after all, the season is done. Entering the Palais d’Iena is a signifier that you’ve made it through the four consecutive fashion weeks relatively unscathed – and you’ve still got a Miu Miu collection to take in and enjoy before you leave Paris on a high. S/S17 was seemingly joyful with its message: “It’s a celebration of summer with all its pleasures and the scary idea of if we can have it again,” said Miuccia Prada after the show as she greeted guests, inviting them to stay for an end-of-season celebratory prosecco. The latter half of her short statement left you with some food for thought. Sure, the collection was an idealistic recreation of being sur la plage with its mix of retro prints, plastic fantastic accessories and saccharine smocking, but the joy of it felt ephemeral. This was Miuccia’s promise of a strange summer that lures us in with a wardrobe fit for sun, pool, sand and sea anywhere in the world. Where were we? And in what time era? Would these upbeat colours and textures last? That sense of sunbathing with anxiety on this fantasy beach left a lingering question mark at the end of the season.
The salle hypostale of the Palais D’Iena was transformed by AMO with a mix of vibrant matte and shiny PVC in virulent shades of teal, yellow and aubergine with graphic panels on the wall creating an artificial summer landscape of Memphis-esque parasols, loungers, sun and sky. To soundtrack this surreal summer, Frederic Sanchez went with The Creatures, Siouxsie Sioux’s project with bandmate Budgie, after the dissolution of Siouxsie and the Banshees. “We wanted something that was beautiful and grand without having to use classical music or something that is too summery,” said Sanchez. “Siouxsie Sioux’s voice came up in conversation and The Creatures was perfect because it had all these different elements to it.” The tracks summed up the surreal beach scenario painted by Miuccia. “It’s this strange beautiful beach, where you feel like you discover you’ve arrived on another planet, but at the same time it’s not psychedelic,” added Sanchez. That was an appropriate way of summing up Miuccia’s beach mix that spanned everything from 1940s open-backed smocked knickers and apron skirts to 1970s geometric prints. For all its retroisms, though, there was also something dystopian about these jolly colours and feel-good textures. Sioux’s haunting voice hung in the air like the siren call of an unpredictable future ahead, calling out long after the sun has set.
Summer Is Here to Stay
The see-now-buy-now mantra for this season has meant that some of the supposed S/S17 collections we saw, won’t in fact be intended for spring or summer: they’re in-stores as you read this. It seems that now, anything goes, and seasons are fast becoming an archaic way of categorising clothes. But this Miu Miu collection was as directly summer-focused as it could be, with all the obvious nods to the high season getaways that we’ll be busy planning for during the months of July and August. You could be forgiven for thinking that much of this was a high summer swim collection: acrylic wedges featuring seashells and starfish and plastic pool slides are ready made for summer suitcases, and Miuccia even provided a beach towel option that doubles up as a stylised shawl. Was this perhaps a comment that collections are still worth waiting months for? When all of this filters into stores in February, we’ll be storing them up for the summer months ahead (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case you can buy-now-wear-now). Still, nestled in amongst the crop tops, swim caps and short-shorts were fluffy coats styled like bathrobes, 1960s Courreges-esque suiting and fur-collared towel-stripe jackets. They will be the perfect pick-me-up when they arrive in stores in February.
Miuccia Past, Present and Future
The historical time periods of summer attire were jumbled up, but so were Mrs Prada’s snippets of self-referencing. Watching the show, you remembered Miu Miu’s early noughties geometric prints, seen here on sheer organza beach cover-ups, towel shawls and suiting. You might also have sensed the same vibes as the John Akehurst-lensed 1998 campaign, featuring a sombrely dressed Sarah Daykin on a deserted beach. The plastic flower-adorned swimcaps that featured heavily are definite successors to the ones seen in the Prada A/W11 collection of retrofuturistic mermaids. As for the 1950s housewife coats in a Doris Day pastel palette? That’s solid Mrs Prada territory. The sum of everything though couldn’t be pin-pointed exactly to one particular oeuvre. As Sanchez summed it up – and in distinct parallel to the most recent Prada collection – “It’s a sort of past-present-future.”
A Summer Soon to Be Lost
“Can we have this beautiful beach and sea again?” That was the mysterious rhetorical question Miuccia posed. Was there an environmental message behind the collection perhaps? “Maybe!” she said with a coy smile. If humanity’s impact on our natural surroundings was something that Miuccia was thinking of, it certainly wasn’t doled out to us in a heavy-handed message. Perhaps she was referring to the more general uncertainty that’s rife in our world today, and this Miu Miu fantastical beachscape is a mode of escape. Sanchez concurs with this idea that Miuccia’s summer getaway isn’t necessarily one that will exist on this planet for much longer. “It tells us a lot about the world today. Maybe you want to go on holiday on another planet.”