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Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2024 SS24 show collection
Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2024 womenswearCourtesy of Miu Miu

At Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada Asks What Beauty Means Today

“This collection is an exploration of different ideas and ideals of beauties. That is a purpose and a reason for designing today,” said Miuccia Prada of her Spring/Summer 2024 Miu Miu collection, presented at the tail end of Paris Fashion Week

Lead ImageMiu Miu Spring/Summer 2024 womenswearCourtesy of Miu Miu

Miuccia Prada is in both a fortunate and perilous position, when it comes to her Miu Miu shows: the last big show of the season, hers is seen as the closing statement, the summary to the general moves of the entire industry. Luckily, no one is better placed than she to provide a definitive curtain call on what we feel, where we’re going and, maybe most plainly, what we want for next season.

This time, the answer was simple: beauty. It was a word she used when discussing the Prada show co-designed with Raf Simons two weeks ago, and it appeared in the title of her Spring/Summer 2024 Miu Miu show. Well, almost. A Rationale of Beauties was the name given, and that notion of plurality was key to a collection that embraced multiplicity at its core. As with the past few seasons, Miu Miu’s collection was modelled by individuals from all points on the gender spectrum – with the clients in store equally diverse. And the clothes themselves clashed together different ideas of beauty in fashion – an elegant evening dress meeting a beach-ready bikini. Both visions of beauty, albeit rarely juxtaposed.

“Beautiful – what does it mean, and what can it mean today? I wanted to question the notion of beauty, but in an optimistic way,” Prada said. “Beauty is a means of celebration, it is a value. The idea of a search for a modern beauty is, for me, a political choice – it is something uplifting, which we need today. This collection is an exploration of different ideas and ideals of beauties. That is a purpose and a reason for designing today.”

The beauties here seem to span across histories. Outfits crashed together Victoriana-looking antique lingerie with 70s-inflected beachwear or slender kid-mohair tailoring, while 20s-inspired embroidered chiffon evening dresses had brightly-coloured speedos peeking out from underneath. Of course, cycling through history brings different ideas of beauty to the fore – and different value systems, but here reevaluated, rather than the rigid paradigms of the Victorian era, a new freedom was discovered. And, in turn, the outfits themselves looked lived-in, as if they’d had a life – metallic cloqué was frayed and distressed, suedes grubbied, leather washed and creased. Miuccia Prada once told me that she adored past references in her collections not for their aesthetic values, but for the fact that they connected with lived experience, with the lives of people. “Pieces of life,” was a phrase she used here. And they all seemed to come together, all at once, in an amalgamation that, visually, represented our frenzied times and overlapping identities perfectly.

That was also underlined by Miu Miu’s artistic collaboration with the Qatari-American artist Sophia Al-Maria – whose work played out as a battle between two female alter-egos, representing reality and fantasy. That statement I made about Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu summarising the season? How about the fact this season has asserted female liberation and dominance (even as one of fashion’s few female creative directors, Sarah Burton, left her post), has recontextualised history, and has proposed optimism as an antidote to dark times. There was, however, little of the battle between bland commerce and creativity played out here – the clothes resolutely and adroitly ticked all the boxes.