Prada's fantasy played out Thursday in a womenswear collection for next summer shown on the second day of Milan Fashion Week.
Models paraded the looks around dunes of purple sand, their shadows casting a series of simple silhouettes — well-fitted shift dresses, puffy skirts, tailored trench coats and oversized coats with three-quarter sleeves. Hemlines finished demurely at the knees and there were no trousers.
Binding the collection was brocade — rich, textured fabric often embossed with gold or silver thread — which Prada designed from archive samples, jazzing up the colours with flashes of green, orange and yellow, and commissioned from textile mills north of Milan.
"It is about observing antiquity, like a confrontation and a dialogue between the possibilities and the beauty of the past and craftsmanship and what makes sense today," Prada said backstage after the show.
She bemoaned that so many skills in textiles have been lost and said reclaiming those has become one of her passions.
"All the effort was not to do something that was decadent, but keep it meaningful," Prada said. "I didn't want it to be too beautiful."
To that end, gauze dresses with brocade necklines finished in frayed hemlines and raw seams. But it was hard to deny the wow factor of a shift dress in patchwork brocade, followed by a patchwork overcoat.
The shoe of choice was high-heeled clogs fastened with an ankle strap, and worn with pretty, sheer three-panel knee socks in colour mixes like mustard floral, ivory and grey. The looks were finished with sparkly earrings.
That the collection defied any seasonal description by now is old news for Prada.