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Quiet Riot – Prada, Pucci, Alberta Ferretti/Philosophy

Fashion has clearly calmed down for spring.

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Fashion has clearly calmed down for spring. But that doesn’t mean it’s become sedate — as looks like delicate dresses falling from thick velvet straps and belted, tiered coats show.

Prada: If it’s possible to get tired of accolades, then Miuccia Prada must be one weary woman. The collection she showed for spring was another dazzler, a breathtaking feast of fashion’s new minimalism that really isn’t minimal at all. Prada called the effort “a continuous struggle with dualism,” in which she sought to capture “the idea of a beautiful doll mixed with a futuristic Japanese woman.” Who else could craft something so subtle, strong and utterly chic out of such seemingly wacky fashion speak?

She started by mirroring her vast show space to create a sense of displacement, achieved to the point of audience confusion due to the endless repetition of the venue’s multiple arches. But with the clothes came a welcome serenity. The first look out — a big white shirt worn with thigh-high ribbed hose, twisted and bunched — looked oh-so-plain, but prettily so. Then immediately, Prada started integrating complications, retaining the initial calm while tempering its starkness. Thus, delicate dresses fell from thick velvet straps, a flurry of pleats swung from the side of a tailored shirtdress, a crisp shirt worked boy-meets-girl with big puffed sleeves and flowered shorts.

Prada delivered patterns two ways — mesmerizing photo prints with a touch of the artiste, and arts-and-crafts embroideries with a touch of your grandmother’s tablecloth. The former came in natural-waist dresses and authoritative coats, the latter in dropped-torso beauties and a hospital-gown number that played panty peekaboo in back. More gentle dresses ruled the night, now embellished with earthy and golden embroideries.

Of course, Prada’s genius has a duality of its own. She flaunted her mastery over that elusive union of art and commerce with a parade of fab notice-me handbags and luggage, which, for all their grand-scale, croc-ed and colored glory, made perfect counterpoints to the understated clothes. Prada truly knows how to speak softly and carry a big bag — not to mention a big impact.

Pucci: After three years, Christian Lacroix is leaving Pucci, finalizing his split from LVMH. And the collection he showed on Tuesday said nothing if not movin’ on. While, for fall, Lacroix toned down the typical Pucci exuberance to chic effect, here he brought it to a placid lull that at first calmed, then dulled, the senses.

Certainly there were some fine clothes and an element of news — pale shifts cut in lace or embroidered for interest, charming knits in print and stripe mixes; tailored coats that bordered on the austere. Lacroix also made appealing use of the house standards in a parade of pinks and aquas that delivered about as much serenity as possible from a Pucci perspective. And he sexed up the scenery with floaty evening dresses cut away over skimpy swimwear. But all of the restraint grew repetitive, and at times too mom-next-door; only Laura Petrie could work the printed shirt and black pants sans frump factor. After a tumultuous separation from LVMH, it’s clear that Lacroix’s focus is now aimed firmly in another direction.

Alberta Ferretti/Philosophy: Alberta Ferretti loves to indulge her sweet side, showing feminine looks with just a hint of an undone attitude. For spring, Ferretti let the frills fly, and the pleats, and the ribbon trim, and the oversized beads … get the picture? While many designers are struggling to temper the embellishment of recent seasons with a cleaner approach, Ferretti went full tilt with the more-is-more approach. After all, that’s the way Ferretti and her fans like it. There were some pretty pieces, such as two cream silk numbers, one with goddess-type seaming on the bodice, another with grosgrain shoulder straps and rows of paillettes arranged in a floral pattern. A tiered khaki coat was also lovely, sporting a Sixties stand-up collar and gentle gathers. It is when Ferretti reins in her penchant for the overwrought that the true beauties emerge. Case in point, for her Philosophy collection: Ferretti stormed the runway with a slew of cute Edie Sedgwick types. Models in pixie wigs sported clean little white Mod dresses, either sweetly crocheted or delicately patchworked with tulle, each one with a sweet tie-on Peter Pan collar.

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