Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2018 Fashion Show

White plastic stacking chairs of the cheap café and garden furniture variety: Who knows who originally inflicted this ugly, unloved piece of non-design on the planet, or when. Anyway. There we were at Miu Miu, when—to the mild surprise of press and international buyers—we arrived to discover that our posteriors were to be pressed to these common products. For Miu Miu is a show at which we all “read” chairs. Sets and furniture are extensively parsed and scrambled over for Miuccia Prada’s messages and meanings.

So: Spring 2018. Was the white chair seating a signifier that Miu Miu was to plummet down market? Well, not quite. This is a moment when the appropriation or transformation of existing products is a big thing. The new guard of influential designers (see Balenciaga, Gucci, Vetements) are all at it. Was Miuccia Prada playing the same game? Was her Miu Miu collection deliberately (or unconsciously) part of her mission to point at classic vintage teenager clothes, and say, “This is my personal taste in clothes that are what they are”?

It was all reassuringly similar to the ’50s and ’60s college kid and prom clothes that baby boomers, like Prada herself, began making their own when they were young. The makings—the ballerina-length circle-skirted lace dresses, the checked lumberjack shirts and college boy sweaters—were taken up again by club kids in the ’80s, who found all these clothes in thrift shops. Prada’s main Spring collection channeled that second-time-around early-’80s New Wave energy in Milan.

The third wave she’s proposing now at Miu Miu is not as literal as reproducing a white plastic chair would be. There were never these exact utilitarian tablecloth and suburban wallpaper prints on leather coats and dresses in the ’50s or the ’80s, and they stood out as innovation in this show. Neither, in real life, did most people wear neon socks with their kitten-heel slingbacks. Nor, in general, did girls ever walk around in transparent dresses with their underwear fully visible. Give it to Miuccia Prada: This last notion is an idea she has been pushing since the ’90s. Though still not in widespread use, it’s become a styling trick in general use, from Christopher Kane to Christian Dior, on this season’s runways. Now: being able to quote oneself as an act of reappropriation? That’s quite a testament to Miuccia Prada’s stature.

by Sarah Mower