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Paris: The Final Day — Last Women Standing

Miuccia Prada tells her own story at Miu Miu. How much of Virginie Viard’s is in Chanel?
Gigi Hadid walks the runway for Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2024.
Gigi Hadid walks the runway for Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2024. (Getty Images)

PARIS — Last day of the show season, and Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu gave a fabulous sendoff to Spring ‘24. She said she usually has a theory about fashion — the collection was called “A Rationale of Beauties” — but this time she worked without a theoretical safety net and showed “what I really, personally like.” The reference in her show manifesto to “the joy of life” came straight to the point of clothes that were, in fact, joyous. Inclusive too, not only for the co-ed spirit, but also for the ease with which Miuccia mixed genders, decades, cultures high and low. As twisted/straightforward as a polo shirt and a pair of jeans accessorised with a big sparkly necklace (they’d be real diamonds if she was wearing them), or a black brocade coat with a little back bow, classic couture, thrown over a speedo and a tiny pelmet skirt, or a schoolboy blazer over bermudas. Mocassins! Monkstraps! Combinations which looked they’d been casually, spontaneously thrown together from a whole pile of swimsuits, uniforms, underwear, sportwear, evening wear and vintage (or “touches of history” in manifesto-speak), all of it revolving around the hip-slung silhouette that has turned Miu Miu into a sales sensation. But the seeming spontaneity resonated in provocative ways that were anything but simple. That these clothes are capable of imbuing their wearers with a peculiar power was embodied in the appearance of Cailee Spaeny, unrecognisable from her breakthrough performance as Priscilla Presley.

“I want to embrace complexity, not simplification,” Miuccia said, by way of an explanation. This, she rightly felt, was the spirit of the time. While fashion’s been trying to nail down security (Quiet luxury? Meh!) in the midst of all the social, environmental and economic tumult, she found the joy in defiance. “I tell the story of my life, because I see what I read, what I know.” And by the time you read this, she may have become a grandmother for the first time, opening a new chapter in the story.

Compared to her voluble mentor Karl Lagerfeld, Virginie Viard has been a positive sphinx at Chanel, but I’ve always liked to think she has been able to weave the story of her life into the threads of Gabrielle Chanel’s — if she cared to, that is. The backdrop for her show on Tuesday was the view from the villa in the South of France where Chanel holidayed in the 1920s and ‘30s with her friends Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles: huge, lush flowers, houses spreading up a sun-drenched hillside. And the clothes took a casual cue from that resort-y atmosphere: flipflops on the feet, terrycloth poncho over the swimsuit, tweedy bathrobes for the pool, sequinned trackpants, strawberries embroidered on a cropped tank, poplin shirt and shorts. Geometric patterns, licorice allsort stripes, pixelated checks and patchworks animated the landscape. For evening, there were organza babydolls and floral hostess gowns. I doubt you’d ever see Viard in any of it — maybe the jeans with the tweed jacket, though a black band T-shirt seems more her style — but there was something about the relaxed easiness of the attitude that pointed to her. It definitely made you want to know a lot more about the sphinx.

Problem was, that ease was eventually overpowered by the sheer merchiness of the presentation. When there’s so much stuff, the clangers start clanging. Later in the day, Miuccia Prada offered an object lesson in the power of focus.

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About the author
Tim Blanks
Tim Blanks

Tim Blanks is Editor-at-Large at The Business of Fashion. He is based in London and covers designers, fashion weeks and fashion’s creative class.

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