From Maison Margiela’s upcycled ‘Recicla’ designs to Coach’s reworked 1970s bags, we’ve seen an increasing number of designers give old pieces a second life in recent seasons. Next up? Upcycled by Miu Miu, a new capsule collection of 80 one-off designs, refashioned from pieces from the 1930s to 1980s, which have been carefully handpicked from vintage stores and markets worldwide.
First debuted at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards in October, the collection—which is on sale now at nine selected Miu Miu boutiques worldwide—features 1960s miniskirts that have been painstakingly hand-embroidered, newly embellished 1970s cocktail dresses, and plenty of statement collars and puff sleeves that are perfect for the festive season. Crucially, the fact that each numbered design is completely unique and has its own story behind it means you’ll want to treasure them in your wardrobe forever.
The new capsule range comes as major luxury brands become increasingly aware of their environmental footprint, and the sheer amount of waste the fashion industry creates. “I want to underline how important sustainability is,” creative director Miuccia Prada said during a conversation with Raf Simons, following the unveiling of the Prada SS21 show in September. Along with inclusivity, she emphasised that it’s an issue that both companies and individuals need to think about, adding that it’s important to “not only declare it but to try, little by little, to be better”.
Miu Miu’s Upcycled collection is the latest in a series of eco-minded initiatives from the designer, with Prada launching its Re-Nylon range made from regenerated fishing nets and other waste in 2019. The brand is also a signatory of the Fashion Pact—a commitment to meet three key sustainability goals: eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050; reduce single-use plastics by 2030 and support innovation to stop microfibre pollution—and became the first luxury company to sign a sustainability-linked loan last year.
Here, we take an exclusive look behind-the-scenes at how the new Upcycled by Miu Miu collection came together.
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A seamstress sews crystals on to a 1960s cocktail dress, which has been updated with new puff sleeves.
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A 1970s organza-pleated dress with embroidered halter top detail is embellished with crystals in Miu Miu’s Milan studio.
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The vintage dresses, dating from the 1930s to 1980s, were all carefully restored by hand. Pictured are a selection of the upcycled dresses in the studio, including a collared 1960s dress (front).
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Jewel buttons are hand-sewn on to a 1960s mini dress, which has been updated with a contrasting black crepe panel and white collar.
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An artisan sews crystals on to a 1960s crepe dress, adding to the existing embroidery.
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A vintage tartan cocktail dress has gold and crystal trims sewn on to it, after being shortened.
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Ruffles are added to the bottom of a vintage embellished dress as part of the upcycling process.
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The vintage dresses were all painstakingly upcycled, with each piece taking days to complete.