Miuccia Prada is on a fashion sabbatical from the real world, taking refuge in a fantasy land of comic strips, yesteryear toys and fictitious characters.
Prada, hailed by fashion critics as one of the few designers today with a personal point of view and a thirst for new ideas, had already skimmed the comic books for her summer menswear collection in June. She decorated her casual collection with cowboy figures, rockabilly dancers, old-fashioned cars and sports gear _ especially golf, the main theme of the collection.
For her Spring/Summer 2012 women's collection, which previewed Thursday, Prada was back in the make-believe grab bag. She pulled out 1950s model cars (two in plastic foam doubled as seats for guests at the show), comic book figures and bouquets of roses from grandma's trunk in the attic.
The main theme was the car, from the motor-revving catwalk music to the exhaust flame prints and large and small vintage cars that decorated many outfits.
Here the clothes took over from the models, many of whom looked like television fashion character "Ugly Betty" before her remake.
Girls with purposely mousey hair, bad posture and a faltering gait walked the runway in lovely ladylike outfits with silk pleated skirts and matching pleated tops, demurely printed blouses, and summer coats decorated with wooly roses. A leather pencil skirt embroidered with a large convertible car is sure to be the hit of the season.
The Prada color palette is soft and feminine: yellow, beige, sky blue and wine red, the latter two often combined to create a soft olden days effect.
The outfits all had a proper hemline _ just below or above the knee _ except for a series of chaste beauty queen 1950s swim suits, which translated into the bold world of the new Millennium become trendy day or nighttime silk outfits.
Just in case there were a poolside misunderstanding, these outfits were worn with the new Prada shoe, open toed with a heel decorated with leather flames. Topping everything off was the latest double-handled Prada bag, very 1950s and very top drawer.