Because we live in an image-saturated culture, one that is constantly birthing new fashion trends in an effort to meet social media’s infinite demand for novelty, it’s remarkable when any one look breaks through the noise. It needs to be seen on the right celebrities and influencers, of course, but a certain absurdity helps, too: Think about Jacquemus’s teeny-tiny bags or comically oversize straw hats. To stop someone mid-scroll, the celebrity stylist Andrew Gelwicks told me, “You need to have a wow factor.”
Enter Miu Miu’s take on the micro-miniskirt. It first appeared on the brand’s spring 2022 runway in October in a collection that presented a sexy, bizarro spin on clothes associated with office jobs and school uniforms: khakis belted below the hip bone, cardigans and button-downs cropped above the bra line, raw-edge suit jackets sliced to the rib cage. After a prolonged period of working and studying from home, it seemed to ask, who even knows how to dress for the world anymore?
Both low rise and incredibly short, the miniskirt was the collection’s standout. There were several versions of it, but the most attention-grabbing ones, in khaki and gray, looked as though someone had taken scissors to a more conservative pleated skirt. This kind of dedication to the bit is classic Miuccia Prada. “When she did ugly-chic, it was really ugly-chic,” said Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “She goes in hard for each of her looks.”
Since its debut in October, the Miu Miu miniskirt has embarked on a world tour of magazine covers, including Muse, Dust, Vogue Korea, Elle Korea, Galore, and InStyle Mexico. Nicole Kidman wore it on the cover of Vanity Fair with Miu Miu’s matching skirtlike bra top, and Paloma Elsesser wore it on the cover of i-D with one of the collection’s underboob-baring sweaters. Zendaya wore it for Interview, Naomi Campbell wore it for W, and Hailey Bieber wore it for Miu Miu’s spring campaign. Hunter Schafer, Chiara Ferragni, and Saweetie have all been spotted in it. The skirt has spawned Fashion Nova knockoffs, memes, DIY tutorials on TikTok, and an Instagram account dedicated to tracking its course through the culture.
It’s the kind of look that elicits a strong reaction. Kidman’s Vanity Fair cover inspired discomfort at the notion of the 54-year-old Oscar winner dressing like a sexy schoolgirl, followed by the argument that such a critical response has, as Amy Odell put it, “an undercurrent of ageism.” (Some people simply loved it.) Elsesser’s i-D cover won praise for being the rare editorial to show the look on a plus-size model as well as commentary that the excitement around it underscores just how far the fashion industry has to go when it comes to representation and inclusion.
While the Miu Miu mini is ubiquitous in magazine editorials, shoppers may have a difficult time actually purchasing it. Employees at the brand’s 57th Street and Soho stores in New York said that they’re currently sold out of all spring 2022 miniskirt styles, and they’re not available on Miu Miu’s website, either (though you can buy a matching bra top for $1,290). At the Soho store, which is planning to restock on minis in mid-March, the shortest version of the khaki miniskirt cost $950, and a slightly longer model, in both khaki and gray, went for $1,150.
In its original incarnation in the 1960s, the miniskirt was “quite radical,” said Steele. It was associated with the youthquake movement and the FDA approval of the birth-control pill, and though it started around knee length — tame by our standards — it inched upward over the course of the ’60s, ending in a micro-mini. In the decades since, it has repeatedly cycled in and out of the fashion Zeitgeist.
So why is this particular miniskirt so popular right now? Like its predecessors in the 1960s, it reads as daring and provocative, which today makes it perfect Instagram fodder. On top of that, it plays into the resurgence of Y2K style, bringing a modern rawness to the pleated minis worn by Paris Hilton, Regina George, and “… Baby One More Time”–era Britney Spears. For Nutsima Belle Sirisoonthorn, a 27-year-old entrepreneur who lives in Bangkok and bought the miniskirt in Paris after seeing it on the runway, wearing it brings up nostalgia for the early 2000s. As Michael Philouze, who styled model Rebecca Longendyke in a Miu Miu mini for the February cover of Vogue Korea, told me, “Young Britney Spears was in my mind when I chose our looks for the shoot.”
When Dani Charlton and Emma Rubenstein, who go by Dani + Emma in their work as a styling duo, first saw the miniskirt in Miu Miu’s spring collection, it transported them back in time too. “It reminded me of when I was 15 in the early 2000s. It was such a liberating item of clothing, even then,” said Charlton in a phone interview. “It was the first time I’d played around with feeling powerful and understanding sexuality with clothing.”
As soon as they laid eyes on Miu Miu’s version, they knew they needed to pull it. “Little did we know everyone felt the same way,” said Rubenstein.
Their opportunity came in January, when they were styling Kiernan Shipka for the cover of InStyle Mexico. For the shoot, which dropped in late February, Dani + Emma chose the gray Miu Miu miniskirt and matching crop top paired with a loose camel overcoat. They weren’t sure if Shipka would go for it, but the actress’s response was a resounding “yes.” “We’re so proud of it, even though it is everywhere. Sometimes you’re like, Agh, it feels like it’s already been done,” said Rubenstein. “But we’re so happy to be part of it.”
If the Miu Miu miniskirt hasn’t reached its saturation point yet, it may soon. “I think it has a very short life span,” said Gelwicks, noting that it’s hard to top the editorials in which it has already appeared, particularly Kidman’s and Elsesser’s Vanity Fair and i-D covers, respectively. If there’s one thing that’s true of the micro-mini, though, it’s that it will always cycle back into fashion again, ready as ever to empower and provoke.