Miuccia Prada loves a paradox. Just as she uses the quasi-couture platform of the Prada mainline to elevate cheap and not so cheerful materials like nylon ripcord, sleazy sex-shop PVC and acrylic fake fur, so she utilises high-end techniques of embellishment in clothing for her secondary line, Miu Miu, even showing in a Parisian salon to underline those high-end insinuations.
While Prada is always slightly po-faced, Miu Miu - titled after Miuccia's nickname - has a younger sense of fun. These spats, from the A/W 2010 collection, are a perfect summary of the line's all-pervading sense of whimsy.
This season, Miu Miu looked back to the sixties, and the now retro future proposed by designers like Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges. These spats, certainly, are simultaneously antiquated and avant-garde - the cleanliness of their line, velcro-fastening, the techno-feel of the leather-backed crepe fabric, and the sharp, metallic glisten of the stylised flower corsages along the front, all slyly reference our notions of tomorrow.
Those metal blooms could be plucked straight from the future fantastic fashions of Paco Rabanne - but, Rabanne, for all his forward-thinking pretensions, was a couturier in the old sense of the word, as were Cardin and Courrèges. In a similar sense, whilst appearing futuristic, it is striking that the basic function of these spats is, already, entirely outmoded.
Spats were originally designed to keep the mud from streets from the delicate material of trousers and fabric-topped shoes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century. In a modern age of paved streets and glassed-in walkways - and for a well-heeled clientele likely to expose these spats to the elements only during the dash between limousine and plush nightclub - they are an anachronism, stripped of purpose and forced to function as pure adornment.