Lace made for a fascinating fetish object at the Prada show in Milan last week. At her little-sister label, Miuccia Prada fixated on, of all things, jockey uniforms. "I wanted to take sport in a new direction," she said afterward. The show began in quite literal fashion with a jumpsuit of bold, color-blocked primary silks, worn over bare legs and cone-shaped heels. Each model's initials were embroidered in leather letters above her left breast, and each wore a fitted horse hood that snapped below her chin, along with a full face of makeup.

From there, the races-to-runway uniform morphed into densely knit blouson sweaters over long shorts and duchesse-satin tunics and track jackets that topped straight skirts. In a stroke of parallelism between her two collections, Prada showed narrow, laser-cut felt shifts and dresses in graphic floral or chevron lace that offered hide-and-seek peeks of the stretch-jersey bodysuits in contrasting colors underneath. For evening, the lace became matte sequins.

Coming at the tail end of a month of shows, the sports reference seemed curiously off-subject. Maybe that's just Miuccia, always a few steps ahead. Still, all the horseplay and repetitive pursuit of concept did seem to come at the cost of real-life clothes. That impression was only partly allayed by the closing group of shapely solid-colored dresses and coats.