Perpetual change is a fetish in fashion – a cycle of transformation where, to paraphrase the writer and theorist Ulrich Lehmann, newness is only created by the juxtaposition of fashion with that which has just ceased to be fashionable. I read that about 15 years ago, so forgive me if it goes astray. Nevertheless, in the final show of the Autumn/Winter 2022 Paris season, Miuccia Prada proposed something radically different: the same as last season.
Her Spring/Summer 2022 Miu Miu collection became one of the most remarked-upon and photographed of the season; certain styles of the clothes have already begun to sell out with wild speed, including, naturally, the briefest of skirts seemingly chopped from men’s chinos or grey wool trousers. Rather than ditch the collection’s ideas and switch to something new, Prada decided to expand and develop the concepts of that show for a new season.
The idea back then was “using the existing to create the new”, after all: this time, that includes last season. That’s kind of tantamount to heresy in fashion, predicated as it is on its own inbuilt obsolescence. But here, ideas from that show were revisited, reexamined and refreshed. It was a total rerun, of course: in fact, there was a lot that not only seemed new, but was. There was an obsession with tennis, its brief pleated skirts and fine polos incongruous, even perverse, in a winter collection. There were leather jackets, some seemingly recycled from existing pieces, decorated with appliqué and cropped and folded high on the body. Last season’s jersey knickers became hoiked-up boxer shorts, closing off the bared midriff that was such a feature of last spring (it is, ostensibly, winter after all). And trainers were replaced with ballet slippers and thick socks.
The Spring Miu Miu collection has been remarkable for its universal resonance: that includes with male consumers. A few brave male souls, after very many hours in the gym, sliced up trousers, button-down shirts and sweaters into midriff-baring Halloween homage outfits last October, just weeks after the show. It was indication of that collection’s ‘going viral’, in a way very little fashion actually does. On an entirely personal note, I’ve also bought a bunch of it. Apparently plenty of other guys have as well.
That, in turn, has resonated back with Miuccia Prada. The casting of this show was remarkable for the breadth of its gender diversity, embracing all identities. Pieces didn’t seem like womenswear on men, or vice versa: they were just clothes, on people, without boundaries or limitations. That felt freeing, and profoundly modern. It didn’t feel new – insomuch as it reflects the moods of our times, the openness of younger generations to eschew old binaries and cumbersome restrictions, which in turn influence society as a whole, despite the frowns and sneering of conservative naysayers. This Miu Miu show felt, somehow, like a profound and meaningful shift, a true embracing of the moment and, maybe, a utopian echo of a not too distant future. It used an existing attitude – a bold and exciting one – to jolt fashion out of its conventions, and offers a fresh perspective. It shifted something. And that felt truly new.