Miuccia Prada takes us into the Miu Miu universe with a one-night-only takeover. Welcome to the Club.
Clockwise from top: MIU MIU CRUISE 2016; THE SHOWSPACE AT MIU MIU CLUB SHANGHAI; MIU MIU CRUISE 2018; KATE MOSS BEHIND THE DECKS AT MIU MIU CLUB 2016; MIU MIU CRUISE 2018; TOMMY GENESIS PERFORMING AT MIU MIU CLUB 2017; THE SET-UP AT MIU MIU CLUB IN HOTEL DE LA PAÏVA; MIU MIU CRUISE 2019; A LOOK FROM THE CRUISE 2017 SHOW; UMA THURMAN AT MIU MIU CLUB 2018 IN PARIS
First, a government office. Next, a courtesan’s mansion on the Champs-Élyseés. Then, an automobile club (membership? Men-only). Following that, a grand Belle Époque hotel. Each of these venues, exclusionary in different ways, reclaimed for a night and transformed into a nightclub hosting a fashion show; a cool, casual post-show dinner; and a hot-ticket after-party... Mini-rebellions staged thanks to one woman: Miuccia Prada.
Mrs Prada has always been drawn to the act— and art—of subversion. She entered the fashion industry as a politically-inclined feminist in the ’70s, at a time when fashion was seen as frivolous, and long before “feminism” became a buzzword. She made nylon, that most industrial and common of materials, an object of desire at Prada. But perhaps one of her most subversive acts is what she has been doing for women since she founded Miu Miu in 1993: Empowering them with fun, feminine and fabulous fashion.
If Prada is the sophisticated, intellectual elder sister, Miu Miu is the free-spirited, rebellious younger child. And Miu Miu Club, the name given to its resort outings, is a perfect extension of the brand. Instead of a fashion show alone, entrance into Miu Miu Club guarantees the ultimate night out. When else would you find yourself sitting, dining and dancing next to models, celebrities, fashion insiders and cool kids in a stunning showspace?
At the first edition of Miu Miu Club in 2015, guests entered the 1937 Palais d’Iéna to find official government offices transformed into an underground Parisian nightclub. They watched as Mica Argañaraz opened Miu Miu’s cruise 2016 show in a graphic mini dress, walking down a raised runway constructed from scaffolding; dined amidst metal grids and PVC sheets; then partied with the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Marc Jacobs.
The next year, The Clash’s Paul Simonon and Moss herself took to the decks at the Hôtel de la Païva, a private mansion on the Champs- Élyseés. Partygoers wandered in and out of its opulent rooms, discovering mannequins decked out in an energetic and irreverent mix of psychedelic prints, a cinema (screening films from Miu Miu’s “Women’s Tales” series, of course), a restaurant serving chef Margot Henderson’s cuisine and a performance by a string quartet.
In the library of the men’s-only Automobile Club de France, Mrs Prada dressed models in embellished jumpsuits, knit rompers and other twists on traditionally masculine automotive gear for the cruise 2018 show. Seated at tables flanking the racing circuit-runway were guests such as Elle Fanning, Alexa Chung and Gwendoline Christie, who flitted between the bar, dining room and terrace.
In July 2018, Chung and Christie went from front-row to walking the show, joining a star-studded cast of actresses and supermodels as they took over the gilded hallways of Hôtel Regina. Fast forward five months, and the club travelled out of Paris for the first time, for a restaging of the cruise 2019 show.
From top: MIU MIU CRUISE 2019; WEN QI WALKING THE RUNWAY AT MIU MIU CLUB SHANGHAI; MIU MIU CRUISE 2019; DU JUAN WALKING THE RUNWAY AT MIU MIU CLUB SHANGHAI
And that’s how I found myself getting past the velvet rope and inside Miu Miu Club Shanghai at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, a historic hotel that also happens to house a former six-storey premier gentlemen’s club on its premises. Lounging with other guests on antique Chinese couches and beds—a scene set by art director Tu Nan, who recently won Best Production Design at the Asian Film Awards—I cheered as Juliette Lewis opened the show by emerging from a giant birdcage, followed by model-turned-actress Du Juan, then models who had walked the original show in Paris, interspersed with China’s leading ladies of the silver screen. From 15-year-old Wen Qi, a rising star who made headlines as the youngest-ever winner of the Best Supporting Actress award at the Golden Horse Film Awards 2017, to 58-year-old veteran award-winning actress Kara Wai; the eclectic line-up was true to the brand’s DNA. As were the clothes, which were a mash-up of ethereal sleepwear and streamlined sportswear, high-shine gowns and cosy knitwear, fluffy feathers and dazzling rhinestones, colourful animal illustrations and sultry leopard print. This time around, Christie closed the show in a striking gown worn by Uma Thurman at the Paris showing.
The next time I spotted Christie, she had changed into an embellished coat worn over a party-ready lace dress. Most of the models, however, remained in their runway outfits; their marabou feather-trimmed baby doll dresses and acid wash jackets emblazoned with “Miu Miu Club Shanghai” taking them from the seafood bar to the cocktail bar, and even the dance floor, where Shanghai’s cool kids grooved to the beats of DJs Chloé Caillet, Agathe Moujin and Peggy Gou all night long.
Mrs Prada once said: “The thing that I would love most would be to be seated in a bar with friends, from morning to night... I was like that when I was young and in politics. That is what I liked; I like to be with people and to talk.” With Miu Miu Club, she has achieved exactly that: A space where the Miu Miu woman can be among like-minded people; experience collections filled with bold, progressive clothes; and party hard into the night.
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARIN BACKOFF (CRUISE 2019 - PARIS BACKSTAGE)