Miuccia Prada had a sound bite for her Spring collection. "It's primitive," she said, "going back to what counts." And what counts most in a back-to-basics time, when most of us will need truly visceral temptation to get us out and shopping? Why, glamour and eroticism, of course. When the chips are down, there is no one who can turn up the thermostat of subversive sexual provocation quite as high as Mrs. Prada. Her girls, their skin glistening as if on a fevered summer's night, might have been passing through on their way to or from lovers' assignations, their clothes disarranged in various states of falling-off or looking as if they might do so at any moment. Rumpled and crinkled fabrics have been appearing all over this season, but never with such sly intent. One pull of a trailing drawstring tape and, whoops! A person could find herself half naked. Not that this collection is, of course, at all brassy. From some angles, it can all look like a perfectly innocent summery dishevelmentthat is, until there's a glimpse into an open-sided dress, or a cashmere sweater turns to display hospital-tape ties holding the back together (or just about).
There was something fabulously Italian about all this shameless reveling in femininity. The fifties overtones, with the high chignons, the ruched bras, and swishing rear action in the below-knee pencil skirts, managed to channel the heyday of Cinecittà without cliché. Best of all, this is a collection destined to look even better on a woman with a real body than it does on a teen model. And that, Mrs. Prada surely knows, really is "what counts."