"I wanted to go forward by trying to cancel out nostalgia. By canceling out the body," said Miuccia Prada. She opened her search for new proportions with a big, loose, odd-looking overshirt, pulled over thick gray stockings. It wasn't exactly a shock, in the way Prada can sometimes be, but the impact of this show, with its strange whitewashed textures and oddly chosen combinations of gigantic platforms, high-heel gladiator boots, bamboo-sole wedges, and big shiny crocodile status bags, was hard to call. Was it fresh, plain, and girlish, or layered with high-tech innovations and original thought? Well, all of the above, naturally. Throwing people off the easy explanation is what Mrs. Prada does.

Clean-skinned girls, neatly ponytailed and cyclamen-lipped, some of them with shiny patent eyeshades, opened the show wheeling stacks of luggage—the baggage of the Prada family heritage. The clothes—mainly dresses that fit loosely, denying the waist—seemed like velvet at first glance, but proved to be made of a kind of overprinted linen. A sequence of deflated puffed sleeves, outcrops of kilt pleats, and floppy falling-down shoulder lines looked borrowed from school uniforms, but without their requisite cuteness.

If Mrs. Prada has an impulse to stride toward the future, though, she knows she can't go there without taking along the much-loved souvenirs of the past. Her plain lawn dresses incorporated the cutwork details of finely crafted tablecloths found in old Italian specialist shops. And for evening, she reverted to type, using minute wooden beads and strips of antiqued diamanté as decoration. All that looked simply lovely. Which leaves the explanations to another day.