Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by Kristen
Miu Miu, the fashion brand created and owned by Miuccia Prada, is featuring GenX-er Chloe Savigny and Boomer Kim Basinger in its holiday Icons campaign
“Their unifying trait is their absolute individuality,” Miu Miu said in its press materials.
It’s a gorgeous campaign and I love the idea of individuality and that they are using models who are outside the hyper-youthful typical demographic for fashion models (younger models are, of course, also included in the campaign). But as I admired the images, something nagged at me. First, there is actually no sign of the models’ actual ages. Sevigny and Basinger both look like they could be 30 years older.
Kim Basinger models for Miu Miu. And then I remembered about the racism and sexism.
In 2018, Prada (both Miu Miu and Prada are owned by billionaire designer and business woman Miuccia Prada) was called out by a passerby who found its New York store was festooned with blackface-themed figurines, keychains and other products. Although the brand apologized, it also denied that the “Pradamalia” products represent blackface. This year, the brand is finally instituting changes because a New York City agency that polices human rights issues in the city is requiring that they do so.
Going back a decade or so, another incident sent me down quit a rabbit hole. Former Prada Japan employee Riva Bovrisse who in 2009 became the Prada’s female executive, reporting to the CEO of Prada, overseeing 42 stores in Japan, Guam and Saipan. That same year, Bovrisse said an H.R. manager told her she needed to lose weight and change her hairstyle because the CEO was “ashamed of her ugliness” and didn’t want to introduce her to colleagues. She’d heard many other examples of similar treatment of other female employees, including sending older workers to the outlets which they called “garbage bins for old ladies.”
Bovrisse had moved to Japan from New York where she was friendly with Prada’s COO, so she called him seeking help and advice. Instead, the next day she was fired for bringing “negative energy” to the company. Then, after not reporting to work for several days, the H.R. manager called and accused her of unexcused absences. When she said she’d been fired, the manager said that never happened. So she came to work to find that her office had been cleared of her computer. When she asked what was going on, the H.R. manager said he’d heard she was suffering from mental illness.
Sounds like some classic Trumpian gaslighting. And this was all happening while she was a single mom to a 2 year old.
At that point she worried she actually was having a mental breakdown. One Japanese court ruled that Prada was guilty of discrimination, yet dropped the case saying that the way Prada treated her was O.K. because it was par for the course for the fashion industry. Prada countersued her for defamation asking for nearly $800k n damages. The United Nations eventually backed her in an effort to make sexual harassment illegal in Japan. The lawsuit went to Japan’s Supreme Court in 2014, according to Chang.org, which collected more than 200,000 signatures in support of Bovrisse.
During the course of her ordeal, Bovrisse went from being a “Hello Kitty lady” to being a spokesperson for women’s rights. But alas, the Internet reveals, frustratingly, nothing at all about the outcome of the Supreme Court Case (I’m emailing the U.N. and others, will report on anything I find out). There’s hardly a mention of Bovrisse since 2014. She apparently founded a preschool in Tokyo, and in 2016, there are some mentions of a potential bid for mayor of Tokyo that never came to fruition.
This is all to say that while this is a pretty editorial and I love some aspects of it, but Prada has a long way to go before I’d feel comfortable buying Prada or Miu Miu products.