It is entirely typical of Miuccia Prada that a collection which, for her at least, was a celebration of fashion at its purest, should read in photographs like an assault on the very notion she was attempting to exalt. With their hair and makeup, Guido Palau and Pat McGrath endeavored to project "virtual princesses," avatars of fashion's digital age. On the catwalk, the models looked a little like a replicant army, even more so in photos. It was a powerful image, which dovetailed neatly with the statement about power that Miuccia made with her men's collection in January. But that wasn't actually the message she wanted to communicate. The canapés that were served before and after the show (and remember, these are significant markers of the essence of every Prada collection) included sweet-treat meringues and chocolates topped by crystallized violets. "Pleasure," Miuccia explained. "Everyone has a theory about their collections these days, but I'm sick of theory. This collection is about the pleasure of fashion."

In her eyes, the designer was making a statement about the enduring human aspiration to beauty, inspired, in part, by the natural world around us. Beauty, Prada style, is a sui generis proposition. The elements Miuccia chose read, in some respects, like a Prada's greatest hits: the mutated menswear, the bad-taste jacquards, the pajama dressing, the embellishment (and maybe even the Numanoid electronica from soundtrack architect Frederic Sanchez that underpinned the whole shebang). But such reduction can never do justice to the depth of fascinating thought and research that go into a Prada collection. The show-opening black coat-dresses, for instance, looked like hybrid morning coats, which harked back to the antique diplomat formality of the Prada men's show. But that also reflected Miuccia's conviction that the fashion of the future will take refuge in the past. (That's hardly a new notion—just look at Blade Runner, a movie that may have been a reference here.) Then there were the embroideries. As precious as they appeared, they were actually multilayered constructs of Plexi and sequins, but what they conveyed, said Miuccia, was "importance." She felt that was a more significant message for women than mere power. In its own way, it was oddly seductive. The imposingly stern quality of these clothes will likely lay out an influential new path for womenswear.