Miuccia Prada is about to do for the lace industry what Nicolas Ghesquière did for flower printers last seasonsend the mills into frantic overdrive. After glimpsing a piece of lace in her studio and at first ignoring it, she found the handmade fabric crept up on her, to the point where it took over almost the entire collection. "I thought using a little bit here and there is tacky, so we've had all Switzerland working on couture lace. They're in shock," Prada laughed after the show. "When you are working on something simple, the surface is important. I wanted to do minimal, something that was feminine and strongbut in the end, not so sexy. And there are a lot of references to early nineties Prada in there."
There was something almost sinister in the cumulative effect of seeing a legion of girls advancing down a steep spiral runway in dizzying numbers of transparent outfits in black, brown, bronze, silver, and pale blue lace. After the first looks of opaque black suiting and dresses implanted with strange upstanding frills (with matching frilled patent cone-heeled shoes), the show shifted into full-lace gear. At first, it came layered over buttoned-up blue shirts, which in turn went over another nude-colored stretch shirt, creating an odd, done-up, double-collar effect. Below, the unlined A-line skirts gave a clear view of big pantiesa nostalgic view, in fact, for they were one of the sly, self-referential nineties-Prada codes that were inserted here and there (fashion-history train spotters could also tick off the industrial metal clips on the bra straps).
There was an erotic force to the show that came out of the tension between covered-up shape and transparency, and an underlying, near-fetishistic darkness that steered the lace away from any sense of froufrou prettiness. Not quite goth, not quite dominatrix, it was an elusive thing to label. If it was one-note (and a bit disconcerting for fans worrying about where their winter coats and jackets are coming from), it also packed that powerful, slightly unsettling image that is, of course, the full Prada experience.