The dress is ephemeral, sheer or silky, nearly lingerie, carelessly worn. She drapes herself in a large masculine coat, the strength of its seams emphasized with faux shearling. Perhaps it is not even hers, but his, whoever he may be. And then there is a man's sweater, an oversized V-neck, cover against the sheerness or a dress unto itself.
There is no question: The Prada woman represented here is a fun-loving floozy.
''It's about life," Miuccia Prada told reporters backstage Thursday after the preview of her womenswear collection for fall and winter on day two of Milan Fashion Week.
As she did for the menswear collection presented in January, Prada took inspiration from German cinema and music of the 1980s. German actress Barbara Sukowa, the title character Lola from Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1981 film, sang an original composition for the runway show's soundtrack: ''Where are the tears from last evening? Where is the snow from last year?" she intoned in German.
The collection, Prada said, comes from her current obsession with German culture. She spent a month immersed in Fassbinder's cinema and Kurt Weill's music as she prepared the collection.
''I like this theme so much. How it is related to clothes, I don't know," Prada said, though she offered an inkling: ''It is high and low, sophisticated and slightly vulgar.
As for the menswear collection, Prada showed her wares on a felt-clad stage, elevated slightly from the audience. The models wore their hair rigorously pulled back, silken ties wrapped purposefully around their necks.
Prada emphasized seams and pockets of wool overcoats and straight sheer dresses with fur or ruffled accents, often in contrasting colors anywhere from burnt umber to yellow to red, against grays and blacks. Among the outerwear, a shaggy red fur coat, from sheepskin, alone projected raw femininity.
Bags were worn over the shoulder on silver or gold chains. The looks were finished with super-high wedge sandals and knee-high boots, all leather but with a plasticized sheen.
''They looked quite difficult to maneuver," British fashion icon Alexa Chung said of the shoes. ''But I will give it a go. I wouldn't kick them out of bed."