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Just in from Milan: Prada

By Rebecca Lowthorpe

Mrs Prada stood backstage and, having kissed the usual long line of well-wishers, she was circled by reporters wanting to know the significance of the Prada set, silhouettes, fabrics and wet hair.

Her hair was neatly waved, pushed behind her ears to reveal large amethyst and diamond drop earrings. She also wore a white leather coat over a white skirt and a red and white checked cotton shirt. On her feet were ‘vintage’ Prada shoes, baring a 1970s green wallpaper print. Excuse the intense desire to detail everything about Miuccia Prada, but this is Miuccia Prada and any significant clues as to what this pioneering powerhouse might be thinking are fashion headline gold.

First, she told us that last night she had spent hours editing 70 outfits down to 49. Then she talked about the haunting film backdrop – scenes that pictured a woman at a doorway and a cat on a wall. (‘What was the significance of the cat? asked one journalist, chuckling, ‘Why was it bigger than the woman?’) Everyone laughed. Miuccia laughed. Profound indeed.

‘It was the idea of making raw elegance,’ she said. ‘And I was thinking a lot about impossibilities and how you can’t abandon your fantasies, how much you have to control your feelings.’ This was a very personal collection, she told us, ‘you can make you yourself elevated and poor at the same time’.

This made sense, for there were riches in those fabrics – embellished with jet black embroideries and sequins, gold and fur – and there were humble wools and cardigans as plain as plain can be. There was also a state of romantic dishabille – an undressed, undone-ness – from the wet hair to the plain cardigans worn under sleeveless dresses that were worn pushed off the shoulders as if their wearer hadn’t the time, or patience to button them up.

This was, dare we say it, pure sexiness of the most refined order. This was Prada Woman, not girl. Grown up, mature, strong, single-minded, but fragile too, a complex, approachable heroine – about as far away from Gucci’s Power Woman, say, as it is possible to get. She wore clothes – not concepts, as Miuccia is sometimes fond of extolling – real clothes: the swing fur jacket, the wool coat with gathered gauntlet sleeves; belted skirts flared from the waist, or with hems that dropped asymmetrically, but all of them fell demurely below the knee. There were no trousers.

The sombre, realistic (as in you will wear these) colours – grey, black, brown - were sometimes punctured with red, turquoise, emerald, silver and gold, or a tablecloth check in powder blue or pastel pink. Glossy chocolate crocodile leather and chocolate silk embroidered with black sequins formed the short evening wear section that looked as delicious as it sounds.

As for the shoes and bags, Prada Woman wears bronze and silver satin heels for night (or day, this - also - being Prada Woman) and sturdy open-toed, rubber-soled booties. Her bag is of the bowling variety – large in patent croc or a smaller bowling clutch version.

All of the above, without a doubt, destined to set the Prada tills ringing.

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