The arrangement of flowers set into wooden geometric vases placed on the mirrored circular dinner tables at the Miu Miu
cruise resort croisière (errr…just French for cruise…) show last night said almost as much as the clothes on the runway. It may be the first time that Miuccia Prada has joined in on the cruise show circuit, as she opted to show Miu Miu’s latest resort 2015 collection in Paris last night, just as haute couture is about to kick off this week. But of all the designers who deserve to take people into their world on themed or one-off extravaganza shows, Miuccia has certainly earned that right. She is a dab hand at the methodology of creating a “brand universe” where everything from the carpets on the floor (blue, geometric and as always, plush) to those aforementioned vases (seriously, can anyone ID them?) only serve to strengthen their persuasive sway over you.
The Palais D’Iena is one of my favourite show venues in Paris because to me it’s the Miu Miu la la land, which signals that the end of a gruelling fashion month is nigh (Miu Miu is normally on the last day of Paris fashion week). Together with OMA, Miuccia always manages to change the space so dramatically that the interior is unrecognisable from one season to the next. For “croisière” (that’s what Miuccia has opted to call it and I’m inclined to go with it even if I can’t get my rolled R’s down), it’s an intimate affair with mid-century modern chairs and mirrored cubes set up in first-come-first-serve seating along the carpeted runway.
The girls would descend down the sweeping dramatically lit-up main staircase and then detour into this cosy lounge set-up, preceded by an acoustic set by soul singer Josephine Oniyama. Her smooth vocals gave way to… why… none other than Deee-Lite’s classic What is Love. That would clue you into the retro-but-not-really late sixties mod slash psychedelia vibes of the collection.
They’ll hate that I’m tarnishing their original imagery with “current fashion” but the collection did send me on a vintage image hunt, aided primarily by the supreme archivists/historians Sweet Jane and Liz Egglestone of Miss Peelpants. It’s hard not to make the many many vintage link-ups that a collection like this stirs up. In fashion Thea Porter, Pucci and Ossie Clarke come to mind. In music, it’s the yé-yé French pop girls of the sixties meets Jackson 5′s colouful ensembles that might have featured crochet. In pop culture… well Alex Fury went for Endora in the series Bewitched and I said Jamie Lee Curtis’ character in My Girl. It’s of course all of that, plus more depending on how you see it.
Some will say it’s one step too far in retrogading. It struck me though whilst going through those vintage blogs, that the original artefacts of that era are now mostly shored up by collectors and auctions and that these scanned images are for most people, about the closest we’ll come to these clothes. Miuccia’s recycling and updating process with her myriad of references is an opportune way of making that period tangible and wearable again. That ’70s Show has moved on. With trailing chiffon scarves, drawstring embellished leather bags clutched in the hand and a vivid colour combo of pale blue, bright orange and apple green, the lurid scratchy polyesters of that era are duly given a slap up the arse. Strictly meant in a non-pervy way of course.
After dinner and with the venue lit up in blue, Jack White took to the stage to perform tracks from his new solo album Lazaretto. As starlets like Stacy Martin and Lea Seydoux swung their hair in the audience, they already looked like they had absorbed the spirit of the collection. The highlight of the night though was definitely the way Miuccia Prada took her exit bow. To affirm the more intimate nature of a cruise show, instead of just sticking her head out for a nanosecond at the top of the runway, she came out walking all the way down alongside the chairs, smiling as though she was in the company of close friends. I wish. Like Rei Kawakubo and Nicolas Ghesquière, I haven’t quite worked up the cahoonas to go up to Miuccia and say “I admire what you do deeply” (and yes I would have to put on my most uppity formal voice to speak to these people). I probably never will.