Miu Miu gets trippy, Mary Katrantzou loves letters, Roland Mouret throws up. A last look at pre-spring 2015

Alexander Fury
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A look from the Miu Miu pre-spring 2015 show

Miuccia Prada enjoys having the final word. Perhaps that’s why she stole the pre-spring thunder, pitching up in Paris to show her Miu Miu collection on the eve of the haute couture collections and close the season. She does the same at the ready-to-wear, after all. On the other hand, maybe it was her acknowledgement of the new power of pre – the first ever, stand-alone Miuccia Prada-manned cruise show. It’s been dribbled into the menswear shows before, but this was a different thing entirely.

It was staged with pizzaz, with all the pomp, and circumstance, and venue of Miu Miu’s Paris fashion week shows. But the clothes were definitely cruise, maybe even defiantly so. The opening looks, double-breasted coats and suits in shades of blue – RAF, British Airways – felt like air hostess garb. Later, psyched-out, lurid sixties prints whorled across kick-flared trousers and bilious, billowing house dresses, mis-matching the shag carpeting. There were crocheted tank-tops, and jewelled pocket plackets, and squishy drawstring bags.

It all whizzed past, slipstreams of chiffon flailing in the models’ wake. Then Miuccia popped out sporting a Prada pre-spring piece shown a couple of weeks ago in Milan, and took her seat at one of a series of mirrored tables. The frocks, and the set up, was all a bit Abigail’s Party. There was a musical performance by Jack White to bulk out the night.

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Printed chiffon and crochet, by Miuccia Prada's Miu Miu line

It wasn’t game-changing. At least, not in material terms – those dresses are tried and tested. I flashed back to Mrs Prada dubbing her mainline menswear/pre-spring mash-up “Prada Classics” and couldn’t help but think we could dub these “Miu Miu Tropes”, or something similar. The label is in the throes of expansion plans including a perfume and the opening of seventy more stores around the globe. They have to be filled with something. And this will do nicely.

There was also a satisfying suitability to the jet-set allusions of the Miu Miu garb. It harked back to the birth of cruise in the sixties, when the set truly came into existence and began careening about the globe, demanding unseasonal clothing suited to travel, rather than the traditional spring/summer autumn/winter axes.

Today, I wonder if the popularity of pre-collections are precisely their avoidance of those axes: the idea that everything is easier, lighter, less complicated to wear. They’re clothes you don’t have to think about, even if designers are thinking about them more and more.

Two collections that bear further discussion are from Mary Katrantzou and Christopher Kane. They’re London Fashion Week stand-outs, and their pre-collections showed a depth and richness which is intrinsic to the way they approach fashion. Neither are overtly conceptual – or rather, neither allow interesting and experimental ideas to overshadow their real business, or making real clothes. Their collections also chimed with Miu Miu, aesthetically if not ideologically. It was interesting.

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A look from Mary Katrantzou's pre-spring 2015 collection

Mary Katrantzou was looking at letters – they didn’t have to say anything, rather it was typography, illustrated manuscripts and the alphabet of fashion that inspired her. There were V-necks and A-line skirts and shorts (see what she did there), as well as lace and embroideries worked with calligraphic motifs, scrambled and juxtaposed to the point of abstraction. There was a sixties-style brevity to the silhouette, a shift of gear after a floor-length autumn/winter, and the pictorial letters of the Book of Kells’ gospels surrendered prints and embroideries that mimicked Miu Mu’s psychotropic surfaces.

Christopher Kane was also feeling short, and showed luxed lace too, in multiple colours patched together and combined with denim. Wallpaperish flower prints in neon hues were festooned with enormous, enamelled gerbera daisies – Quant-y, but also off enough to feel quintessentially Kane.

Elsewhere, there was leather, leopard-print, a great series of neon chiffons with punchy lace trims. Christopher Kane has always taken his pre-collections seriously: indeed, many of the looks popularly associated with his label (the galaxy print, rainbow hues variegating through chiffon or guipure, knife-pleated lamé) originate in his interseasonal ranges, rather than on a catwalk.

The trouble with pre-collections, however, is that they know no boundaries. They’re a law unto themselves, free of the usual fashion week constraints of geography or time. They’ve been rolling on for two months – just when you think they’re dead, they rear their not-so-ugly, commercially viable head again and a designer vomits out another thirty looks.

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A lace dress by Christopher Kane

That vomit analogy, incidentally, comes not from me, but from the designer Roland Mouret, who vomited out quite a good pre-spring collection in London a month or so ago. “There is that moment where I am late, and I feel like want to throw up,” he said, with a wry smile. “This show allows me to transform the negative side of thrown up into a creative side. You want to throw up? Let’s throw up diamonds.”

What a nice note to close cruise on. Now, onto the couture.

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