For Fall 2023, Mrs. Prada Took Miu Miu Out of “A Place of Nonsense”
If you arrived early enough to the Miu Miu fall 2023 show, there was time to study the videos by South Korean artist Geumhyung Jeong screened on a loop around the set. Some featured disembodied hands touching garments—they slowly slid into the fly of trousers or the cuffs of a shirt, fingering pleats in a way that was so careful and intimate it was a bit uncomfortable. Other reels showed Jeong compulsively folding and rearranging clothes on tables, moving them from one place to another, almost as if she was working the shop floor. Her work examines the relationship between the human body and the objects around it. “The task is to play with objects while respecting the given rules,” read a statement by the artist in the show notes.
Miuccia Prada applied the same idea to her collection, which was great. “It’s about looking at bodies and how clothes work on bodies,” she said after the show. “You can do so much just with the body and the clothes. It sounds like a banality.” Prada is a master of taking the banal and tweaking your perception of it through context and proportion. She’s been on a roll with this specific tack since she chopped boring business-casual chinos and cable knits into micro minis and crop tops for spring 2022.
This time around, Prada set her sights on some classically feminine tropes. There were bespectacled, bookish good girls in buttoned-up cardigans and flimsy polka-dot pencil skirts. Busy, modern tomboys wore mannishly tailored outerwear over hoodies, leggings, sneakers or monk strap brogues. Big, leather cross-body messenger bags and little camera bags dangling with keys suggested these women—and a few men—were on the go, in a rush. Perhaps so rushed they forgot to put pants on, accidentally tucked their sweater into their pantyhose or didn’t have time for one final look in the mirror to smooth their rampant flyaways. This is how Prada plays—by brushing up against the rules.
Mrs. Prada toyed with texture, amping up knitwear, leathers, and tweeds with a robust yet refined hand. Then she did the reverse, going light, barely there on sheer, slip-like little nothings of halter dresses and cardigans embroidered with flowers. The casting and clothes teased gender norms and conventional notions of dress—borrowed from the boys; borrowed from the girls; borrowed from the bourgeois. Who can borrow from whom anymore?
This collection wasn’t made for borrowing, though. It was made for buying. Prada knows how to whip up a show that’s slightly askew, lest anyone sniff that it’s “commercial.” The weird little affectations, like a shock of messy hair and awkward spangled panties paired with turtlenecks, turn the clothes on their head and keep it interesting. But even viewed upside down, it was plain to see all the impeccable merch: the coats, the shoes, the bags, the eyewear. “I can’t leave fashion as a place of nonsense,” said Prada. “Even if there’s some excitement and sexiness, I think we have to dress for thinking.”