What better a context for showcasing hats than a night at the races? That was Miuccia Prada’s thinking for the presentation of her knockout collection on Saturday at the picturesque Hippodrome d’Auteuil race track in Paris’ 16th arrondissement.

The open-air event, in the midst of a European heatwave, kicked off with a horse race as guests including Céline Dion, Nicole Richie and Gabrielle Union excitedly flapped their Miu Miu fans in the stands.

“For a moment I thought I was in England, I was like, ‘Where’s my hat?’” deadpanned Dion, taking in the expansive race course, the Eiffel Tower spiking the horizon. “It’s full of firsts for me — my first Miu Miu show, my first time betting on a horse… and the set-up is extraordinary with the drones, the grass, the horses getting ready. It’s fun and that’s what life should be about,” added the singer.

Mixing Forties and Seventies references, Prada’s spin on “conservative” occasion wear read like an homage to Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic “Scandal” collection for spring 1971, inspired by wartime fashion.

Finishing off the silhouettes — paraded on a striped runway running the length of the viewing stands — were clunky platforms, including lace-up cork styles, and high pile-ups of floppy hats layering feminine wide-brimmed styles with big bows at the front along with newsboy and baseball caps.

The Forties influence came through in the shoulder constructions on the tailoring and the pretty printed tea dresses with balloon sleeves, contrasting collars, high defined waists and fluid peplum details. Blouses sported long Chelsea collars in crochet lace or with delicate embroidery details, paired with high-waisted belted shorts in colored leather or mannish sartorial cloths.

The mood, with its joyful mix of patterns and motifs, was retro-looking but with a youthful, sporty flavor. Stripes of all varieties played out on the socks, chunky cardigans and cotton pieces with more of a workwear vibe. Crystal embroideries were sprinkled across some looks.

Prada also trotted out knits and coats in playful equestrian prints depicting jockeys riding carts or horseshoes — among the show’s many winners.

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