Just when the whole fashion world has turned ladylike—thanks, of course, to Miuccia Prada—she's tossed it all in the air, looking for a certain freedom. "A vague idea of birds; birds of vanity, like peacocks, parrots, and swans," was a starting point in her restless search for change, she explained. "I also wanted to move toward something more young and sporty, tall and narrow."

To bring the audience into her new reality, Prada stripped her familiar clean, boxed-in stage set down to the bare industrial walls, then projected Rem Koolhaas' mind-scrambling collage of live news images onto them. It was a lot to take in before the show even started—but that, one suspects, was exactly Prada's intention with the clothes, as well. There was so much going on, it was almost impossible to process at first sitting.

In broad terms, the news from Prada included a different silhouette (short hemlines, worn mostly with flat sandals), a return to one of her favorite palettes (brown-ochre-rust), and as always, lots of artful eccentricity (peacock feathers, flowerpot hats, Bakelite digital watches). There was also a Jamaican dance hall vibe, with reggae on the sound system, Rasta stripes in the knitwear, and Caribbean crochet in the raffia hats and cardigan coats. The birds really took flight for night, in the form of skirts overlaid with peacock feathers, dresses covered with digitalized feather prints, and pretty chiffon gowns whose fanlike pleats hinted subtly at dove's wings.

It seems surreal to say this was one of the plainer, simpler Prada collections we've seen for a long time. But for all the intellectual flights that went into this collection, that is perhaps Prada's most important point.