Miuccia Prada is rarely straight-forward, or for that matter straight to the point. Despite the elation of her collections, we are inevitably left puzzling over some element of the collection. Sometimes it is one bone of contention in an otherwise easily digested display (those leather waders from Autumn/Winter, for example). Other times, as with her Spring/Summer 2010 collection, the whole thing requires deeper analysis. It started with the show, as opposed to the clothes, as projections behind the models slid from chandelier-hung halls to hospital corridors to Elysian beach scenes viewed through stone porticoes. Fitting really, as all of the above cropped up in the clothes themselves. The opening coat, with a scientific-cum-medical spareness, was immediately reminiscent of Cristobal Balenciaga with its slender bracelet-length sleeves and a billowing body falling from a tiny yoke. At the same time, pinched in shape and with every hem left raw, it had all the components of classic Prada. Foliate prints and Hawaiian style beach scenes in solarised hues followed, again in firm silk that lifted away from the body in shell tops and full-hipped boxing-shorts, leaving a fine pocket of air between garment and wearer. This breeziness was emphasised by those loose backs on long and short jackets, billowing ever-fuller alongside fluttering peplums and free-falling panes of bubbly chiffon suspended from shoulders. Nothing fitted, everything floated - until a finale of hefty chandelier crystals meshed Paco Rabanne-style into slit-back hospital gowns tethered everything firmly to earth. What of the all-important Milano money-spinning accessories? There were none. Or at least, they were designed to be overlooked - transparent goggle-framed sunglasses, perspex-heeled shoes and see-through PVC clutches and bowling-bags like ghosts of accessories past. Despite the undoubtedly cerebral cant of her work, Mrs Prada is no dictator, but challenges the viewer to come up with a meaning to apply to all this. For me, it was about paradise found, about virtual perfection - those idyllic scenes of imaginary beaches and blossoms on clothes, homage to Balenciaga's exquisite cut, and a real focus on beautiful clothes. The 'invisible' accessories removed the 'It bag/shoe/sunglasses' question from the equation altogether, focussing attention on the clothes. An analogy between a translucent clutch and financial transparency in the wake of Madoff may seem a touch too 'fashion theory', but this is the kind of ubiquitous mood Mrs Prada makes it her business to be plugged into.
The 'invisible' accessories removed the 'It bag/shoe/sunglasses' question from the equation altogether, focussing attention on the clothes.