In fashion, pretty is as pretty looks. In the hands of Miuccia Prada, pretty looks pretty darned spectacular. Once again, Prada left her audience breathless with a spring collection dazzling on many levels: its refinement, its subtle intricacy, its modesty — yes, modesty — that was ironic or not, as suits your pleasure.

Prada decorated her show space with big, playful cartoon car bodies crafted from something akin to Styrofoam in red, blue, pink and white. They certainly weren’t green, but they were plenty amusing. Walking in, one half-expected a kitsch-fest, though Prada titled the show “Women and Car Engines” and said she saw “an excuse to talk about femininity and what it means today. Women can be feminine, even sweet — a word which today in fashion is almost taboo. It’s not clear why.”

Perhaps, Miuccia, because fashion was waiting for your seal of approval. (See last spring’s monkey/tropical prints; see countless other current runways.) This spring, Prada took a sweet turn, but with an overt schoolgirl vibe challenging for adults. Even with its retro car imagery (including a giant Chevy, or not a Chevy, plastered on a model’s posterior) this lineup played as all chic, with endless gloriously adult wardrobe options. The clothes were gorgeous: round-shouldered lace car coats with pleated backs; loosely fitted bandeau tops worn over graceful plissé skirts; fluid, waist-conscious dresses with exhaust-flame print borders. There were pinup-girl, don’t-go-near-the-water swimsuits and a new take on the twinset in a floaty, back-pleated maroon coat and blouse worn with a pleated blue skirt. The fabrics were girly, big on soft pastels and madame-worthy floral guipures, though leather lent, if not grit, then an alternate kind of structure.

The accessories: bags with car imagery and shoes cut with more of those adrenaline-inducing flames. “Cheerful and witty,” Prada said. And once again, leading the race on the fashion speedway.

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