Post-show, Miuccia Prada cited her inspiration as a man poised between fragility and power, hanging in the balance—in other words, between extremes. As usual, her enigmatic comment cast an illuminating light on the collection we'd just seen. The first outfits out were a parka and blouson hanging off the models' shoulders on straps. Once upon a time, Helmut Lang offered up the same idea, but where his version suggested fierce refugee pragmatism (you have to be ready to carry your world on your back), Miuccia's made a nice portrait neckline for her new batch of boychicks. But at the same time, there was a hint of tension—suspension—in the idea. And it was extended in subtle details like the elastic bands that wrapped shoes or encircled waists.

You could parse Prada collections till hell froze over, so loaded with suggestion are they. That button "buried" in a double-breasted jacket? True, Margiela already explored the idea of the phantom garment, but it doesn't make it any less seductive. And the elongated polo layered over cotton smock layered over boxer shorts? It evoked emergency-room or sanitarium whites—what better way to convey the subtext of men in crisis? But step back from obsessive fandom and there were irresistible basics, like a gussied-up Gap: perfectly tailored pants, fine knits, cotton shirts, top-stitched denims. All this and a gold latex coat: As the mannequin moved, it trembled, poised indeed between fragility and power.