Fairies? At Prada? Why, yes: When Miuccia is fed up with being perverse in the anarchic-fierce way, she'll change tack yet again and go against the grain by being so sweetly unchallenging you (almost) can't recognize her. So Prada for Spring went late sixties, early seventies, Art Nouveau-ish—tripping off into the kind of tendrilly doodles girls used to scrawl on their bedroom walls after studying their hippie-romantic rock album covers. At any rate, that was what seemed to be evolving as a collection of silk-printed tunics, paired with cropped flared trousers and cutaway spat-boots, began to wend its way out. They were followed by skinny-rib knits, some in the form of all-in-ones, and then it was away with the fairy story: wood-nymph illustrations printed on greenish-tinted chiffon, growing over skirt petals and entwining themselves around the bodices of dresses.

It was, said Prada, "about trying to find a new creativity." It was certainly a softening up from the last two seasons and technically accomplished in its curvilinear lines, traced with contrast piping to run around necklines and up to chokerlike collars. Clumpy-heeled suede platforms and cutaway boots grounded it all in some eye-catching footwear. If that sounds retro—maybe a little Ossie Clark or Biba—it was. But, as always with Prada, any literal connections between past and present were contradicted by other threads of thought. One was about big, puffy organdy skirts, and the other—which happened to yield the chicest blue-and-red patterned dress in the collection—was slim-knitted calf-length sheaths, a continuation of Prada's enduring love for sweater dressing. The latter proved that no matter how far she apparently diverges from the last season, this is a woman who never loses the plot.