What this tiny Miu Miu set tells us about body image
The power of this year’s most coveted outfit goes way beyond style, says Olivia Petter
Thursday 3 March 2022 By Olivia Petter
If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you would have scrolled past it at least twice. Bought a fashion magazine? You’ll know all about it. Looked up literally anything online? It’s there.
Of course, I’m talking about the Miu Miu set, a two-piece outfit comprising a belted tube top and a low-rise, pleated mini skirt that’s not long enough to cover the whites of its pockets. It comes in camel, dark denim, and leather. Referred to as the hardest-working outfit in fashion, this uniform-inspired co-ord has graced the bodies of everyone from Zendaya, Hunter Schafer and Hailey Bieber, to Emma Corrin, Emily Ratajkowski, and Chiara Ferragni.
Naturally, the Miu Miu set also has its own Instagram account (2,000 followers and counting), dedicated to showcasing the array of women to have worn it. Meanwhile, global fashion platform, Lyst, has released data revealing that there are currently 900 online searches per day for the Miu Miu skirt alone.
Not since Zara’s polka dotted dress of 2019 has a look captured the internet quite like this. But unlike its loose-fitting, ankle-skimming predecessor – whose popularity was credited to its universally flattering fit – the Miu Miu set leaves 90% of your body exposed. This includes the entirety of one’s torso and, depending on how much you move, quite possibly a bit of your derrière. It also costs about 20 times the price. And yet, the ultimate ‘skirt off-sick’ set has largely sold out online.
At a first glance, it would be easy to dismiss this teeny-weeny look as something limited to models and those with similarly slim body types. That was certainly my initial impression – and that of the majority of my Instagram followers when I asked for their thoughts: ‘not flattering for any other body shape’, ‘designed for a pre-pubescent body’ and ‘would make me feel gross’. This is also how the look would have likely been perceived in the early noughties, the era from which it (and just about everything else in the SS22 collections) pays homage to. But don’t be fooled: there’s more to this viral set than meets the eye.
For starters, Miu Miu goes up to a UK size 18, significantly higher than most luxury labels. What’s more, the look itself has been modelled on women with a range of body types, something that is also fleetingly rare in the high-fashion sector. This includes Lara Stone, who wore the look in an editorial for Vogue Czech, and plus-size ‘model of the moment’, Paloma Elsesser, who was pictured in the skirt and its coordinated cropped cable-knit jumper on the cover of i-D magazine.
In an Instagram caption announcing the cover, Elsesser explained the goal was to ‘create images for people (specifically larger bodied femmes and beyond) to look [at], and tangibly see what’s possible’. The result, as she put it, was an empowering cover depicting ‘an aggregate of softness, sexiness, and most importantly, authority’.
But the power of the Miu Miu set does not end there. The ensemble has also recently found its way onto the front of Vanity Fair, modelled by none other than Nicole Kidman, and styled by Perfect magazine’s editor in chief, Katie Grand. At 54, the Australian actor was praised for defying Hollywood’s ageist sartorial norms by donning the look, which, up until that point, had only been seen on starlets in their twenties and thirties.
The caveat, of course, is that with the body of a 34-year-old, Kidman is hardly representative of most women in their fifties. Even so, this has not immunised the actor from a slew of sexist criticism. So far, so concurrent with what you’d expect from the darkest corners of social media.
Yet it’s a stark reminder of the way society continues to police women’s bodies. But don’t lose hope: progress is happening, because the more magazine covers that display this – and the more we see women of all shapes and sizes in outfits exposing their bodies – the more they will be normalised, and the closer we’ll get to a world where women feel emboldened to wear whatever they like, regardless of age and body type. If a miniscule designer co-ord is the thing that helps us get there, then so be it.