For spring, Miuccia Prada decided to cut it up. “To cut is powerful – it is a direct action, something very basic that can have enormous impact,” she said ahead of her latest show. “Today, I am interested in the idea of economy – of paring back, working with the existing, the real, to transform what we already have.” So, it was a wardrobe of everyday pieces – chinos, blue-collar working shirts, knit sweaters, car coats – that formed the basis of her Spring/Summer 2022 Miu Miu collection. But, as suggested by the collection’s title – ‘Basic Instincts’ – there was something subversive and provocative in store.
What Prada did was to take scissors to those stalwart garments, slicing them apart to make the proportions seem fresh and new. A pair of men’s trousers may be sliced so high they become a pelmet skirt, or hiked up into a bandeau top with a belt still in place. Caban coats have shredded hems, as if trapped in a car door and ripped away. Suits were sliced about the midriff, pocket bags visible. “Rather than trying to invent anew, we wanted to celebrate and elevate these universal archetypes of dress,” Prada said. There was, inevitably, a sense of the sexual – this much exposure of skin and the rawness of torn-away clothing suggest passion. Yet at the same time, the clothes didn’t victimise in the slightest: Miu Miu’s skirts may have been the shortest of the season, but there wasn’t a whiff of exploitation or inappropriateness.
Presented on the last day of the last week of the Spring/Summer 2022 fashion season, Miu Miu was interesting insomuch as it can be seen as both a summary and a repudiation of the mood of the time. Sex has been everywhere – probably because, for the first time in a long while, people are able to touch one another without fear, or reprimand. The sexuality at Miu Miu felt implicit rather than explicit – the transformation of normal, humdrum clothing into something attractive and seductive – the word Prada used about the collection created with Raf Simons and presented less than two weeks ago in Milan. The exposed flesh altered perceptions of the body – Miu Miu brought back the low-rider skirt and hip-hugged trouser, absent for about 15 years, and in part launched by Prada’s re-embracing of 70s aesthetics in the 90s. It had been gone for a while, and looks new again.
Cutting is, of course, a technique used in film as well as fashion. Prada engaged the artist Meriem Bennani to intervene in their live stream, cutting the footage with fantasy sequences starring her own mother as a harangued office employee – wearing, of course, similar versions of the twisted everyday clothes Prada proposed on the catwalk. There were also animated papers and stethoscopes dancing through the Palais d’Iéna – as the home of the Conseil économique, social et environnemental, still a place of work. That idea was underscored by the fact the audience were all sat on immensely practical padded Eames office chairs, like phalanx of secretaries ready to take notes on what Miu Miu thought was new. Oh, there was a Miu Miu New Balance collaboration too, worn with mid-calf skirts like office workers on their busy morning commute.
That felt real – which is what Miuccia Prada was aiming for. “I am interested in objects of the everyday – I want to give a power and a value to things that are usually unnoticed,” she said. In short – as short as those skirts – this show was a blast of energy. It found a new balance – no pun intended – in proportions, a fresh way of looking at things we see everyday. “For this collection, there is no pointless invention, no fashion,” Prada said. “It is about classics, about clothing that allows you to think of bigger things. Clothes are part of life, not the meaning of life. For me, this is a basic instinct – to reflect life.” I’m not sure if it’s reflecting what’s on the street now – but, in six months time, it feels like perhaps everyone will want to look like this.