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From the issue, Meng-Yun Wang speaks to the Prada superfan turned Miu Miu model:

Meet Dr Qin, Shanghai’s – if not the globe’s – best-dressed septuagenarian, whose collection of Prada pieces will make even the most loyal Pradaphile turn green with envy.

From SS12’s flame skirts and SS18’s comic book biker jackets to SS14’s portrait frocks and the totally bananas skirts of SS11, Dr Qin’s personal archive is littered with covetable Miuccia marvels.

Her fascination with the Italian fashion titan first blossomed when she began borrowing from the wardrobe of her younger son, Komiku, soon after he moved out of their family home in Guangxi, a region in southern China, to attend university in 2014. In his absence, Dr Qin dipped into his collection. “It was a shame to see everything just hanging there, so I began wearing his jackets,” she says.

It wasn’t until a trip to visit her son in 2022, now working as an interior designer in Shanghai, that this habit flourished into something much bigger. “It was October and the weather suddenly turned cold,” Komiku remembers. “My mother had only brought summer clothes, so I said, ‘Why don’t you wear this jacket?’”

Said jacket, it turns out, was a windbreaker overlaid with tropical prints from Prada’s SS14 menswear collection, today a trophy find that will rack up serious numbers on resale meccas like Grailed. “My career had nothing to do with fashion,” she says. “But my son loves Prada and, slowly but surely, I started to like it, too.”

Prior to this, Dr Qin had spent most of her daily life wearing a doctor’s coat that covered up all semblance of style. Born in 1952, she found that the social climate of her youth dictated that having a personal sense of fashion was vain and – even worse – “bourgeois”. Komiku recalls his mother telling the story of when she first started in a hospital and had big curls permed into her hair. The next day she was pulled aside at work and told not to aspire to “Western ways”. When she got home, her father advised her to get her hair cut as soon as possible.


A preference for practical clothing largely prevailed throughout the rest of her professional life. “I valued ease and simplicity as we were very busy every day,” she recalls. “Fashion seemed something incredibly distant, after all. No matter what I wore, I had a white coat covering it!”

It was only following retirement and a relocation to Shanghai that she began experimenting with her look, encouraged by Komiku. A common misconception about China is that its demographic is monolithic, but the country counts 56 different ethnicities. Guangxi forms China’s border with Vietnam and Dr Qin belongs to the Zhuang people, a Tai-speaking ethnic group, and she largely speaks that dialect, which is different from Mandarin Chinese. Her son acts not only as her translator, but her photographer and style advisor, too.

Dr Qin was drawn to the “considered yet restrained” approach of Prada, where eccentricity and wearability are caught in a glorious dance. In particular, she likes pieces that are heavily worked with embroidery and beading. “Where we come from, the traditional clothes of the Zhuang people also have a lot of embroidery. My grandmother and my mother would wear these pieces with lots of silver jewellery,” she says. “I’m infatuated with Prada’s more daring designs.”

Today, the mother-and-son duo continue to share their Prada collection – a true testament to the brand’s multi-generational appeal. Although they don’t keep precise count, Dr Qin estimates that, between them, they have more than 150 pieces from Prada and Miu Miu hanging up in garment bags in their Shanghai apartments, which are a stone’s throw from each other. They buy new pieces each season to add to earlier styles collected by Komiku, while rare archive pieces are sourced from friends in the local fashion industry as well as resale sites (which ones exactly, Dr Qin keeps close to her chest).


As she started building her Prada collection, Komiku would photograph his mother in her Prada get-ups. He suggested they should begin uploading the images to Instagram and on Xiaohongshu (Red), China’s most popular fashion and lifestyle platform. They jokingly named her handle 一天一件儿子的衣服的覃阿姨, which loosely translates to “Auntie Qin, who wears an item of clothing from my son every day”. On the site, Dr Qin has turned into something of an influencer. “People come up to her on the streets and say, ‘Auntie, you look so good.’ It’s all a new experience for her,” says Komiku.

“It was completely unexpected,” she says. “After I hung up my doctor’s coat, I have a new role doing something completely different, which is challenging but fun. It’s great to have a new start in your seventies.”

Dr Qin is routinely photographed in an assortment of looks that defy all expectations of age. There she is, wearing the chandelier dress from Prada SS10 styled over a white T-shirt and red skirt. On another day, she’s in a Miu Miu pleated mini skirt, paired with leather thong boots. Sometimes she leans towards Prada’s menswear with V-necks layered over print shirts and tailored shorts, finished with ankle socks and brogues.

“I think a lot of Prada’s designs start from Mrs Prada herself. It’s like her own wardrobe, into which she injects youthful elements. Her personal style showcases a charismatic approach that spans all age groups,” she says.

Gradually, she has built up a small but dedicated following on Instagram that includes fashion fans like Bryan Boy, Diet Prada and Style Not Com. Her account recalls the popular Advanced Style, which highlighted the stylish senior citizens of New York in the early days of fashion blogging in the mid-aughts.

“I think you would normally expect an older woman in China to wear something more restrained, but seeing Dr Qin break from that norm and really make a fashion statement via that signature Prada eccentricity is inspiring,” says Tony Liu of Diet Prada. “She’s a reminder that you can have fun with fashion at any age, and for me specifically to keep putting my own Prada archive to use.”


Asked to choose her most prized Prada piece, she settles on a gold, crinkled, satin jacket from SS09 that she wore to the opening of the recent Pradasphere II exhibition in Shanghai. “I’ve just never seen a fabric like it,” she says.“It’s almost as if they took the texture of metal and fashioned it into an item of clothing.” Touring the exhibition, where more than 200 looks, curated by Raf Simons, showcased the brand’s archival history, Dr Qin was delighted to see pieces she owned on display. I wonder what’s the one piece that got away, that rare find Dr Qin is yet to add to her wardrobe? “The Cadillac print jacket with crystals from SS12,” she says.

Although she didn’t meet Miuccia in Shanghai, Dr Qin did get her wish to shake her hand in Paris when she walked in the Miu Miu show, looking radiant in a jewel-adorned overcoat. “We’re both in our seventies, so when I look at Mrs Prada I feel a connection that comes from our age,” she explains. “I also learnt that neither of us studied fashion design, so I think we look at clothing and style from our own professional fields and the life we’ve lived.”

Komiku updates his mother whenever Prada shows a new collection, where she routinely notes down the pieces she likes. Her most recent Prada splurge was a purple skirt from the brand’s SS23 collection, co-designed by Raf Simons. “Raf’s style is minimalist while maintaining a beautiful silhouette,” says Dr Qin. We strike up a conversation about Prada’s AW23 collection, which drew inspiration from the day-to-day uniforms of blue-collar workers, nurses included. “There is the notion in fashion that only glamour is important. I hate that. I have always fought against that,” wrote Mrs Prada in the show notes. “This collection is about finding beauty everywhere, beauty of different kinds.

“Fashion designers often use their designs to communicate something about society,” says Dr Qin. “I might have felt very removed from fashion [when I worked] in the hospital, yet Prada shines a light on what we previously saw as banal.”

And with that, Dr Qin is off – there are more Prada looks to be worn, more vintage pieces to be bought and more adoring fans ready to bask in her elegance.

Taken from 10 Magazine Issue 23 – DARE TO DREAM – out now!