Mrs Prada took inspiration from photographer Karlheinz Weinberger’s bad girls for Miu Miu A/W18 – here’s why you should follow the Insta-account celebrating his legacy
“It’s the end of Paris Fashion Week and we’re going out with a bang,” said Guido Palau, responsible for constructing the Ronnie Spector-esque bouffants at Miu Miu A/W18. “We’re doing a great big tease, kind of ‘bad girl’ hair. She’s from the late 1950s and early 1960s – she was a rebel then and she still is. I think it relates to girls now who want to be powerful and strong and a little bit punky. It’s got a rock and roll vibe. It’s a classic shape but it’s done with a raw texture.”
In fact, Palau’s towering bird nests and Miuccia Prada’s designs – an elevated take on the thrift store – were inspired by the late-photographer Karlheinz Weinberger, who documented the Elvis-obsessed street gangs of 1950s Zurich, in a photo-series titled Swiss Rebels. Although Weinberger passed away in 2006 at the age of 85, an Instagram account paying homage to his life and work was founded 2016, serving to highlight his legacy.
A self-taught, amateur photographer, Weinberger worked in a factory warehouse by day, and used the weekends to patrol the streets with his Rolleiflex camera, capturing so-called ‘juvenile delinquents’. “My life began on Friday evenings and ended Monday mornings,” he said, at the opening of his first major exhibition in 2000. John Waters also counts himself as a fan of Weinberger’s images, and certainly, in the Miu Miu show one could feel the palpable presence of an adolescent Tracy Turnblad. “Here’s the thing, those kids look exactly like the girls looked on the Buddy Deane Show, which we fictitiously did in Hairspray,” remarked Waters, of Weinberger’s subjects.
Miu Miu is widely considered the ‘teenage daughter’ of Prada – the name of the brand itself was even taken from the moniker that Mrs. Prada’s family gave to her when she was a girl. This season, she played on this to the extreme, with a collection that brazenly celebrated the obstreperous nature of youth culture. For today’s teenagers, this means a preoccupation with using Instagram as a means to record their every move, the style they emulate and the fashion tribes that they follow. It’s worth following Karlheinz Weinberger’s archive, too, not only for the arresting images he created in his lifetime, but for the fact that his legacy feels so prescient now, acting as a kind of precursor to the phenomenon of self-documentation amongst the young.