It's Miuccia's world and we're living in it
Raise your hand if you know the story of how the brand Prada was born. Okay, now raise your hand if you know how the brand MiuMiu was born. Not so many of us know that, right? As much as MiuMiu has been in the spotlight in the past two years, its story is not so well known, but I think it is worth digging deep into Prada’s rebellious girl next door!
While Prada was passed to her by her father and uncle, who got the brand from their father who started the brand in 1913 with a little shop of leather goods, Miuccia Prada was the first one who gave birth to MiuMiu in 1992. In fact, the brand screams her name from head to toe: Miu Miu is Miuccia’s childhood nickname, and the aesthetic that followed from debut year to today are all inspired by the woman that Miuccia wants to be, the youth fashion she dreams about and the values she wants her clothes to incarnate.
MiuMiu was founded in 1992 as a brand that wanted to be rebellious and creative, against the current of fashion trends, something timeless, a staple brand that was not just a wing of Prada’s house. Even though the first store, opened in 1993, was in the ex-Prada headquarters in Milan, the strategy was to differentiate MiuMiu from Prada, from the aesthetic to the market target, going from Paris to London to the US, while Prada was well rooted in Italy. The first distinguishing traits of MiuMiu’s fashion were preppy collars, pleated skirts, cotton clothes, fringes, check patterns, see-through garments: a ’60 schoolgirl, with her uniform, but creative, different from the good girl next door always sticking to the rules. That’s what Miuccia was as a young woman: a nice university student from a good family, polite and well educated but also a politically engaged communist that was not afraid to speak her mind!
After experimenting overseas, to find a defined identity, MiuMiu came back to Milan in 1998, and was there till 2008, when the brand headquarters moved to Paris, where they had already made their debut in fashion week in 2006. The staple pieces grew, adding to the preppy ’60 pastel color block uniform a touch of character, with Italian tailoring, leather goods such as the matelassé bags (now back in spring with the Miu Wander bag, in the hands of all the influencers around the world), the kitten heels with socks and last but not least something that just came back this season and might be here to stay, making us go crazy and fall in love: the no-pants panties trend, putting legs on display, bare or with fun colored tights!
MiuMiu hasn’t always known the big success that it has been having the past few years. The influences of American fashion and culture, choosing for campaigns hit girls such as Drew Barrimore and Chloe Sevigny (longtime face of the brand, still representing it nowadays) in 1995, along with European touches, were not enough to amaze the fashion system, keeping the brand a low-key, niche one. They even started a menswear for SS99, but it seemed to the critics like it had too much Marni vibes and did not have a big resonance. So, despite the early start at PFW in 2006, it was only in 2011 that MiuMiu started to rise. Accessories have always been a big part of the brand identity, and it is exactly from them that the success started: the most loved ones where the 50s pin up inspired big sunglasses of FW11 and the matelassé bags, a way to work leather that has been a distinctive trait of the brand. Another successful season was AW21: due to the pandemic still running dangerously, the models had a special runway, the snowy mountains, where they wore colorful knitted balaclavas and bubblegum colors puffer jackets, satin spaghetti dresses with pearls, giving out playful vibes to make people smile for a moment during times of such sadness and uncertainty.
2021 was also the year of the collaboration between MiuMiu and Levi’s: bringing a new vibe to the classic jeans, MiuMiu upcycled them (yes, they are environmentally friendly too!) with pearls and shining stones embellishments. This collection was loved by the younger audience, bringing the girly MiuMiu touch to a comfy daily piece such as jeans, especially the high-quality Levi’s’ ones that do justice to every bum!
But MiuMiu’s real zeitgeist was SS22, when the world was just starting to come out from the heavy pandemic blue, daily routines out and about were starting to come back, from work hours to afterhours, and MiuMiu was able to embrace the new feeling of re-found and renovated freedom: scissor cut hems left raw said goodbye to old tailor rules, white collar shirts made into crop tops, they were giving off rebellious school boys and girls cutting their uniforms to express their personality. “Basic instinct” was the name of the collection, an instinct to express our creative nature and trash the rules of appropriate dressing: clothes should be fun, let’s play with them and deconstruct. Here came “the shorter the better” skirts with a little underwear on display, crop shirts under coats and leather jackets, plateau heels with funny socks: MiuMiu’s sexiness and playfulness at their best came back and were there to stay.
FW22 picked up again some of the pieces of SS22 spicing things up for the cold: knitwear, leather jackets embellished with flowers patches or fur, longer low-waist pleated skirts with double belts, New Balance x MiuMiu sneakers, ribbons and ties around the models’ necks. That’s the season where menswear came back, or, better, where the gender rules started to break and feminine and masculine wardrobes met. SS23 was androgynous too and saw the comeback and renovation of old archives pieces, such as thong high boots and light windbreakers. Brown leather jackets with extra-large pockets, jewel see-through skirts and another, bigger matelassé bag were the staple pieces of this season. Just a few weeks ago, we saw the, again, mouth-opening collection for FW23, presented at Paris fashion week on the 7th of March. Everybody loved it, the fashion world was enthusiastic: messy bed hair, thighs and underwear on display under knight cardigans, kitten heels and polka dots, technical textiles for jackets and leggings, bags and keys all in one hand under the arms. Life is hectic, we are always running, but Miuccia’s ideal girl is ready to fight it with a playful, charming and imperfect attitude. But the breaking pieces were for sure the sparkling jewelry panties: no time for pants, wear embellished panties to a party with a turtleneck and in palette colored thighs and everybody will love you!
Another successful choice for MiuMiu’s raising are the campaigns: from 2022, all the modern hit girls have been wearing MiuMiu, being it on commercial photoshoots or in daily life. From Hailey Bieber to Kendal Jenner to Paloma Elsesser (‘cause no, low waist short skirts are not just for flat stomach only anymore, thanks God!), to long-time MiuMiu girl Elle Fanning, queen of fragrances campaigns, actresses Emma Corrin, Mame Bineta Sane, Sydney Sweeney and Daisy Edgard Jones, and even our Italian Francesca Michielin: name an influential woman and she will have worn MiuMiu most iconic pieces!
One of the MiuMiu campaign girls is Im Yoona, a South Korean K-Pop idol, member of the famous 2nd gen group Girl’s Generation, and another one is the actress Lee Youmin, whom you may know for her role as Nayeon in worldwide famous southkorean Netflix serie Squid Game: they were the first Asian women to wear MiuMiu as ambassadors. Since 2022 they have been modeling for the brand’s campaign and thanks to her, the MiuMiu aesthetic started to spread in Asia. With more of a modest and comfy touch, rather than the sexy western vibes, Asian women are big fans of MiuMiu. In January 2023, to welcome the new Chinese lunar year of the Rabbit, MiuMiu even launched a themed collection, starring all Chinese models and influencers.
I love Korean fashion, and I can tell you that almost every Korean influencer I follow on Instagram has been wearing the flat ballerina shoes that MiuMiu launched for this season, incorporating them in the ballet/school uniform core that is now trending in Korean for spring. South Korea is a country where fashion and celebrities, being them actresses or idols (the amazing K-Pop singers and dancers), are very close: the MiuMiu mania has spread thanks to them too, as many have become ambassadors or wore Miu Miu for their stage outfits. The five members of the girl group Le SSerafim, Chaewon, Sakura, Yunjin, Kazuha and Eunchae, have worn all MiuMiu fits for their explosive performance at the 2022 MAMA awards. G-Idle’s Minnie and Ive’s Wonyoung, two other girls’ groups, are official ambassadors of the brand: they attend the runaway shows and were there for the opening of Seoul and Hong-Kong MiuMiu stores. Male idols too have been wearing MiuMiu since the menswear collection came back: the stylish, fashion addict Yeonjun, from the group Tomorrow by Together, received an invite to attend the FW23 show.
I think that MiuMiu’s identity and idols’ aesthetic are perfect for each other: from the tomboy outfits to the ones with more of a girly-girl vibes, don’t be fooled by the polished, dreamy aura of these women, ‘cause they look cute but are no Barbie dolls, get in their way and they’ll bite back!
MiuMiu's relationship with the artistic system doesn’t stop with musicians and movie stars: Miuccia Prada is a curious, educated and open-minded woman, and so she chose for Miu Miu to start a sodalice with female filmmakers and artists. In 2011, the MiuMiu Women’s Tale project started: having reached the 25th chapter, it is a collection of short movies shot by women and about women, exploring the universe of womanhood, across the world and different generations, through the eyes of a female gaze. You can find them on MiuMiu’s youtube page and on MUBI, along with behind the scenes and interviews with the cast and the filmmakers, to get deeper and deeper into the eye-opening works!
The last artist that MiuMiu collaborated with is the south-korean performance artist Jeong Geomhyung. Used to making videos and performances about the relationship of the human body with technology and textiles, the artist made short videos where her hands touched and explored the MiuMiu collection garments, moving them, folding them, creating an intimate relationship between the clothes and the ones who wear them. The videos were played on screens above the catwalk during the FW23 show.
So, my dear girls and boys: if you feel cute and classy but rebellious, fun and sexy, love fashion, art, cinema, your hair is always messy and you wear only kitten heels, ‘cause they allow you to dance all night long… well, you are a real Signora Miuccia!
[Cover credits go to Harper’s Bazaar September 2022 interview with Mrs.Prada. She’s wearing a full MiuMiu fit, with the staple loafers]