This gender-blending approach of Miu Miu menswear may be ripe for modern reinterpretation, but it was even remarked upon as unusual by fashion critics and customers at the time. In a Vogue review of the brand’s fall 2005 menswear collection, fashion critic Tim Blanks wrote: “There was an unorthodox feminine thread running through the styling, which was most obvious in the way everything—from a purple duffle coat to a stolid tweed suit—was belted.”
Looking at the collections more closely, it’s clear that Miu Miu men’s was—and still is—a subversive brand in its own quiet way. Kardamakis points to the label’s casting of waifish, hyper-boyish models dressed in feminine garb. Think twink. “It was this openly gay vibe when everyone was trying to look like executives, you know?” he says. The approach of Miu Miu men’s also has parallels with womenswear designers today who are making their forays into menswear for the first time—Simone Rocha, Chopova Lowena, and Peter Do, for example—but doing so without sacrificing their more conventionally feminine codes. (Take, for example, the lacy, pearl-encrusted Simone Rocha suit worn by Paul Mescal to the SAG Awards on Sunday.)
Still, fashion editor and writer Rob Nowill, who previously wrote a series on under-sung menswear labels for AnOther magazine, has more modest memories of what Miu Miu’s menswear meant to customers at the time. “I mainly remember being at university when it was its peak,” he says. “I would see pictures of the brand in i-D and try—unsuccessfully—to replicate the look using clothes from Topman.” In his opinion, the growing appetite for vintage Miu Miu menswear presents unique challenges: mostly that it’s hard to discern what, exactly, is worth the high price tag. “It’s less ‘collectible’ than Helmut [Lang] or Raf [Simons] because there really aren’t any It pieces,” he says. “There’s no Miu Miu equivalent to the Riot Riot bomber or the Helmut military vest. The clothes just look like really good versions of normal clothes.”
Having recently snagged a few vintage Miu Miu pieces, that’s a fact I can personally confirm. A pair of powder blue nylon trousers I recently bought seem to be designed more to delight and intrigue the wearer than the viewer, which happens more rarely than you might think. They are light, breezy, and perfectly constructed—but to everyone else, they look like a smart, if run-of-the-mill, pair of slacks. “I think menswear is drifting back in the direction of Miu Miu men’s,” Nowill tells me. “People are getting bored of overt branding and looking for clever clothes again.” When it comes to Miu Miu menswear, if you know, you know.