It was the skirt of the season. If you could call it a skirt. Pleated, dangerously low-slung and precariously truncated within millimetres of impropriety, that viral Miu Miu miniskirt requires about as much introduction as the coverage it offers: little to none.
Debuting on Miu Miu’s spring/ summer 2022 catwalk in Paris last October, the micro lengths of said skirt and its pseudo-collegiate, ab-baring, cable-knit, crop-top combo sent showgoers into a frenzy. The smartphone camera tap heard around the Palais d’Iéna show space was soon heard around the world, multiplying into double taps that echoed throughout the channels of social media.
Editorials soon followed and the skirt was seen on actors Nicole Kidman, Emma Corrin and Zendaya, models Paloma Elsesser, Lara Stone and Emily Ratajkowski, rapper Saweetie and activist Maxim Magnus, defying anyone who thought the mini was for a single body type. It moved at lighting speed into high-street retailers such as ASOS and Shein, where punters could pick up a copy for less than a tenth of the price of the original.
Google searches for the Miu Miu spring/summer 2022 micro miniskirt hit 900 a day according to data from Lyst in February, Depop searches for “micro miniskirts” went up 23.2 per cent from the same time the previous year, and virtual styling platform Stitch Fix reported a 194 per cent increase in inquiries from this year versus last. Oh, and matchesfashion.com sold out of the camel colourway in three days. But don’t fret, DIY how-tos are trending on TikTok.
A similar look may be surprisingly easy to achieve, with designer Miuccia Prada having seemingly taken to her more demure hemlines of recent seasons with scissors, with nary enough time to finish the hem (left raw), nor trim the pockets (the skirt is so short that the pockets spill out like secrets).
Then came the memes.
“Taking a shot every time I see that Miu Miu set. I’m about to give myself liver failure.”
“I see this Miu Miu look more than I see my own family.”
Soon enough, the skirt even earned that highest of accolades: an Instagram account in its honour. Founded by Ashley Langholtz, a 17-year-old high-schooler and virtual stylist from Westchester County, New York, @miumiuset launched at peak miniskirt mania, dedicated solely
to wearers – editorial, eminent and everyday. It’s safe to say it quickly went viral, instantly making her the industry oracle for all Miu Miu miniskirts – in between classes, of course.
“Originally when the Miu Miu spring/summer 2022 show was released, I wasn’t a huge fan of the collection,” admits Langholtz. “However, I have come to love the preppy aesthetic. My interest in the skirt began as I started to see a mass of editorials featuring it. I loved seeing its versatility and that there were so many variations of the same silhouette.”
After waking up one morning to her feed clogged with memes and editorials of the miniskirt set, Langholtz decided to create a fan page to collate and share all the imagery in a single place.
“I think the Miu Miu set has had such viral appeal because, once again, the amount of variations of it,” she says.
“It has been in endless editorials and on many different types of people. In my opinion, diversity will always draw a larger range of consumers to purchase a product. The set also seems to be hard to get, which creates more desire and more buzz.”
The skirt heralds the return of something much bigger than itself (although, most things are): that increasingly rare phenomenon of the fashion trend frenzy, which gained momentum around the Y2K era, which itself is trending at present. Think Paris Hilton, singer Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty era and Britney Spears’ I’m a Slave 4 U ensemble translated into low-rise jeans, nano bags, ab-baring crop-tops and body chains or luxe takes on Y2K names such as the Supreme x Tiffany & Co. collaboration. Also consider: Juicy Couture’s velour tracksuits (2001), the Chloé Paddington bag (2002), the Alexander McQueen skull scarf (2003), Sass & Bide sequinned dresses (2004), Roland Mouret’s Galaxy dress (2005), boot-cut jeans and baby-doll dresses (2006), skinny scarves (2007), Chanel’s half-tint sunglasses (2007), the Proenza Schouler PS1 satchel (2008), the Saint Laurent Tribute sandals (2009), the Celine fur-lined Birks (2013), the Chanel two-tone slingbacks (2015), the Gucci Marmont belt (2016) – the list goes on.
Indeed, frenzied trends are the axis on which the fashion industry pivots, ever since the 14th century when new styles were adopted by the echelons of high society as a means of displaying status and wealth.
A person who could discard an entire look – from crinoline to cloak – after only a few weeks or days, demonstrated substantial funds and time to burn, as well as proximity to royals, mirrored in the swiftness one could pick up their habits.
Additionally, trends so often speak to a zeitgeist, a shared communal mood. This season’s ubiquity of hot pink, for example, has long been associated with high energy, vibrancy and joy, a symbol of how we want to feel after a few dark years of being locked in. The miniskirt first emerged in the 1960s as a revolutionary symbol of freedom for women.
In 2022, although far less controversial, could the micro mini represent our desire for a simpler time, when high-shine lip gloss and “going out tops” were the height of style? We’ve swapped our lockdown loungewear sets to matching skirt sets and perhaps we simply want to return to the world in unapologetic and unabashed emancipation.
To wit, the wearers of the skirt – from those determinedly strutting the runway to body-positive models flaunting their forms – all seem to share a look-if-you-dare attitude that felt entirely empowered, igniting something that saw the looks hit a and founder of @velvetlavenderclub Anastasia Mouskou perhaps said it best when she commented, “Miu Miu spring/summer 2022 was designed for a specific beauty standard, but the fashion world said ‘no’. Instead of conforming with the rules, the fashion world is showing what you get when no-one cares and complies with the beauty standards.”
It’s a feeling shared by Paris-based luxury vintage curator and archivist Marie Blanchet.
“The late 1990s and early 2000s are extremely influential in today’s current collections and, in my opinion, this Miu Miu skirt look recalls to the collective unconscious Britney Spears’ 1998 music video look for Baby One More Time. This look allows women to live a secret fantasy. It’s very liberating.” Are there any pieces in recent fashion history that she has found to have generated a similarly intense buzz?
“Probably the revival of the Vivienne Westwood iconic corset, the Balenciaga legging shoes [inspired by Martin Margiela’s from 2003], chunky trainers from 2000s’ New Balance to Balenciagas worn with white socks, the Galliano for Dior Gazette dress and the Fendi Baguette bag.”
For marie claire fashion director Naomi Smith, the miniskirt signified a tone shift from recent seasons.
“I immediately loved the Miu Miu sets. As soon as I saw [model] Rianne on the runway, I was obsessed,” she says.
“I think it was a combination of things that made so many fashion people react the way we did. It has been a long time since we have seen a short skirt, fashion has been very masculine and put together in a very loose way for a number of seasons now. The Miu Miu miniskirt sets are a modern take on a suit, so you have an element that is more considered – shirts underneath and matching fabrics – combined with raw, cut edges that look like someone has literally taken a pair of scissors and cut into a perfectly neat look.
"Also, styling the socks with the low-heeled shoes gives a very flattering balance to the look. The boyishness in the mix, as well as a fresh take on proportions, make it appear strong and sexy."
As a master of reinvention, Miuccia Prada’s inclusion of the miniskirt style for autumn/winter 2022 is nothing if not confirmation of its staying power. The new season iteration has graduated from its sexy-collegiate status, switching raw hems for crisp, athletic trims and the school uniform taupe/grey colourways for optic white.
Knee-length cashmere socks continue spring’s high-sock styling but the sharp, pointed flats are switched for satin ballet shoes. Spring/summer 2022’s belted bandeaux are swapped for cropped bomber jackets layered over mesh tanks and prim neck scarves, perfect for breaks between sets.
Whichever version speaks to you, don’t forget the prophetic words of Paris Hilton, who once said, “Skirts should be the size of a belt. Life’s short, take risks.”
This article originally appeared in the June issue of maire claire Australia.