PARIS, France — One of the best shows in New York at the moment is the Morgan Library’s retrospective of Peter Hujar’s photographs. It coincides with a groundswell of interest in the downtown art scene of the 80s. Hujar’s pictures capture the personalities of the time, among them, the late Cookie Mueller, queen of the Lower East Side, inspiratrice to Hujar, Nan Goldin and John Waters, among many others, and, as of Tuesday afternoon, the presiding spirit of Miu Miu’s Autumn/Winter collection with her ratted hair, her cat’s eye makeup and her 50’s bad-girl style, translated to 80s clubs like the Mudd (another enduring source of inspiration for designers like Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui).
It’s not the first time Mueller’s ghost has hovered over Miu Miu, but this season she fully embodied the women of character that Miuccia Prada was celebrating: unconventional, diverse, bolshie. Elle Fanning, first on the catwalk, said it all: the beehive, the boyfriend’s car coat, the flat, buckled boots, the flash of powder blue chiffon at the throat and, most of all, the scowl.
Mounting witty, provocative challenges to “good” taste has been Miuccia Prada’s default position throughout her career. A pilled, purple mohair sweater tucked into the high elasticated waist of stonewashed jeans; a red leather cheong-sam (only word for it) under a garish tweed blouson; a strapless floral sheath over more mohair (black), anchored by fluffy white ankle socks and little black slip-ons with a bow; a fire-engine red PVC coat with billowing ruched sleeves; strapless brocade sheaths decorated with a wayward fringe of wool…a symphony of clashing colours and textures, Prada’s interpretation of the rebel spirit of CAMP, which Rei Kawakubo used as her jumping-off point the other day. “Resistance!” declared Miuccia. Somewhere, Cookie is smiling her crooked smile.