“It’s fun!” said Miuccia Prada, moments after her Cruise 2018 Miu Miu show in Paris. Was she describing the clothes she had just presented, the party that was just beginning, or fashion as a whole? Maybe all of the above.
Miu Miu is Prada’s light-hearted, young-at-heart sister. The label is derived from Miuccia Prada’s familial nickname, and there is a similar sense of youthful verve and informality to what Mrs Prada does at Miu Miu. The collections are also, famously, created at breakneck speed – her seasonal collections are whipped up in two weeks between the Milanese Prada show and Miu Miu’s Paris unveiling – and this Cruise show operated on the same timescale. Perhaps that accounts for the directness of Miu Miu – simplicity is the wrong word, given how complicated the clothes are, technically, but there is a straightforwardness that is refreshing.
Miu Miu’s Cruise presentations, begun three years ago, have spun out into something idiosyncratic and unique. They’re halfway between a show and a blow-out – they call them the “Miu Miu Club,” playing particularly on the last word. It could mean a gang, it could mean a nightclub, or any kind of gathering-place of like-minded individuals. For this outing, Miu Miu commandeered the library of the Automobile Club de France, a grand sandstone building adjacent to the Crillon and very much the same in feel (plush damask walls, thick carpets, a few pictures of cars to underscore the idea). The Automobile Club is men only – or rather, was, until Miu Miu occupied the premises.
Miuccia Prada was inspired, in part, by cabaret – that’s why the models mounted a stage at one end of the room, and why female chanteuses crooned on the soundtrack. It’s also why the library was littered with cafe tables groaning under the weight of champagne buckets, like a speakeasy. And the collection itself was, literally, a meeting-place – or melting-pot – of these intertwined worlds: ritzy French rococo, car mechanics, torching icons. What does that add up to? Grease-monkey overalls with patches picked out in beads and collars edged in crystals, intarsia minks, high-piled hair, plenty of sparkle. Madame de Pompadour, meets Billie Holliday, meets the Indy 500.
Sounds like a madcap mix – Wacky Races and Watteau – but somehow, it all made sense and tugged at your purse strings in that extraordinary, inexplicable way Prada always manages. There was the all-important urge to acquire. I told Miuccia Prada that afterwards, and she seemed pleased. Then she went off, to eat langoustines, and have some fun.