Qatari-American artist Sophia Al-Maria recalls that the first time she became aware of Miu Miu as a brand was through its iconic ballet slipper. Al-Maria received an invitation to work on the set of the Miu Miu Spring 2024 show at the Palais d’Iéna in Paris on October 3, mapping different parts of a film across various screens in a large space. “Since the invitation I’ve learned a lot about the history of the brand. I feel like Miu Miu embraces complexity. And that is a worldview I want to throw all my heart and talent behind,” she states. Her storytelling was expressed as a “fairytale ending of the world about a court jester and a royal guard who can’t agree if life is a tragedy or comedy.”
Tell us about your process.
“It began with the architecture. Often it starts there for me. The building is both brutalist and classicist, it was never used for its original purpose. Columns evoke both structure and power and due to the manner whereby we encounter them in ancient ruins, they also represent a fallen empire and history. All these things led to the basic idea of making the space a refracting, multidimensional space where you can’t tell which columns are real or where you are. The mirrors further complicated the space. I was very happy with that. Then, the next step was gathering the team. Divide and Dissolve is my favorite band. It is an indigenous and black group whose work I want the whole world to hear.”
What specific storytelling do you hope to share with this work?
“The type of storytelling that leads you into asking to see the next story. The kind Shehrezad crumbed Shehriyar with. I have been thinking a lot about how storytelling, sport, humor, beauty – all of these things are essentially a way to speak to an audience who may not love you and may even actively dislike you (in Shehrezad’s case, her audience wanted to kill her), and to bring them to see your humanity so that you can enter a space of companionship, collaboration, or even just cohabitation on this planet.”
Has working with an Italian fashion house had any direct influence on your work?
“It has had a direct influence on my appreciation of craft and the art of maintaining a successful house across generations. I’m not sure how it will or has affected my work yet beyond all the things I’ve learned about working within existing structures and hierarchies. I’ve always admired and appreciated Italian design and aesthetics, but I was more of a 70s furniture objects and Giallo film kind of person – so this was an introduction to character building in the real world as well. There’s an elegance I can’t name but that will fascinate me forever there. I also just think there’s a sort of simpatico between Italian and Arab ways of communicating so it felt very good in that way.”
Originally published in the December 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia