Miuccia Prada's often impenetrable thought processes were more naked than usual this season. She wanted to perform a perverse/reverse alchemy: Take the clichés of worldly female glamour—sequins, snakeskin, fur, the color pink—and make them innocent again. After the show, she harked back to her lace collection of Fall 2008. "I'm curious about women," she said. "I want to challenge their passion."

A year ago, Miuccia was exalting the womanly form at its shapeliest. Here, she opted for the dropped-waist, straight-up-and-down silhouette of the twenties flapper—or the sixties dolly bird. Wide belts were slung low over big-buttoned coat-dresses or sheer shifts. Given that both the aforementioned decades were periods of female emancipation, it was hard to take Prada to task for a potential retreat to the elevation of—what would be for most of her customers—unattainable girlishness. Besides, she referenced her beloved Saint Laurent with a block print evoking his Mondrian dress from 1965, a piece that is, forever and always, the quintessence of fashion modernism. And, on top of that, the collection danced gleefully around those adult elements of desirability that Miuccia has made her own—bags and shoes. Especially noteworthy were the latter, including boots offered in a killer trompe l'oeil combo of high heel and knee-high, particularly provocative in python.

Python was also cut into cocoonlike twenties-style coats with big fur lapels. The reptile angle was pursued with a series of outfits coated with huge plastic scales. But were the girls serpents or mermaids? It was the kind of question that leaves a Prada audience uncertain about spontaneous responses. "Let me sleep on it," say the flummoxed journalists as they leave a show. Whatever, today's finale flourish was a gorgeous effect that perfectly encapsulated Miuccia's intended aim of innocent glamour. Let's plump for mermaids.

A footnote: At Prada there is always at least one element that doesn't quite gel. Here, it was the way the models clutched their bags tightly to their chests. Ladylike might be one interpretation. Shields could be another. That's food for thought for the next collection.