After a few seasons of offering conclusive proof that you can make movies with fashion, it was inevitable that Miuccia Prada would eventually turn her attention elsewhere. Where that might be was initially suggested tonight by the latest in an endless string of reconfigurations of the Prada show space. It was transformed into an industrial performance arena, with stalls, mezzanine, and orchestra pit. But it took a post-presentation conversation with the designer to clarify exactly what the transformation implied. If it was movies that determined the character of Prada's last few shows, here it was experimental theater that absorbed Miuccia. "A lot of Pina Bausch, avant-garde theater, political, mostly German, affected by Fassbender," she said.

L'Usignolo, a woodwind concert group, performed live renditions of Kurt Weill's music, in competition with the pounding metal of Rammstein; so Teutonic avant-garderie was taken care of on the soundtrack. Quite how the notion applied to fashion was trickier. Miuccia claimed a shift in her sensibility: "More personal, changing from pop culture to intimacy, introversion, even solitude," she said. But, even after that insight, it was difficult to appreciate how the clothes matched the ethos. After Spring's sensational cinematic blowout, this felt very much like a collection that was treading water, biding its time. By way of contrast, the pre-fall collection for women that was threaded throughout the show seemed so much more… definite.

There was, however, a reassuring unfussy real-ness to most of the menswear. The way generously cut trousers puddled on thick-soled trainers, for instance, or how blazers sported the dressiness of shawl collars. There were distinctive, definite colors too. A degree of theatricality could be detected in the subtle element of performance: The scoop-neck tee might have been borrowed from a ballet dancer, the stripes down trousers were a Sgt. Pepper touch. And the most obviously experimental pieces in the collection—protective quilted breastplates—apparently referenced German conceptualist/performance artist Joseph Beuys. So, it seems, did the fur coat. But, as far as intimacy or introversion went, what we saw were a whole lot of perfectly social jackets and pants.

Any Prada collection is a finely woven web of reference and allusion. This one was clearly no exception, but ordinariness crept into the gap between ideal and actuality. "More naive," was Miuccia's preference, "but too perverse to be innocent." Now that's the Prada we love. So, continuing in the theatrical vein, we should perhaps assume that this was a tryout. Act One. Next month will bring the women's show, Act Two, when all will be made clear.