Boho is no-go as Prada signals the return of gentler, simpler fashions

This is no overstatement. A former mime artist and a political science graduate, Prada's every collection is now anticipated with bated breath by fashion editors, buyers and high-street copyists alike. And the message from Prada last night was gentleness and simplicity, with nothing more complex than pleats and creases for decoration on her sleeveless shirt dresses and parchment-coloured silk flapper dresses.

Accessories were typically desirable, too, with racy patent pink ankle boots, black patent sun visors and sandy-coloured luggage all working to prevent Prada's pared-down vision from becoming stark. Up close, though, there were intricate yet subtle details.

Over at Emilio Pucci, meanwhile, a tide of pretty oceanic prints washed over the catwalk. The Florentine brand, founded by an aristocratic skiing champion in 1950, for next spring showed Sixties-style shift dresses and swimsuits with panels cut away at the waist as the canvas for wild pattern, either violet-pink serpentine patterns or graphic intersecting arcs in deep blue and purple. This was a bravura show from Pucci designer Christian Lacroix, who has led the brand since 2002. But the industry bible, Women's Wear Daily, yesterday reported that the British designer Matthew Williamson may now be lined up to take over.

Away from the catwalks there were reports that the Italians are facing shrinking profit margins due to cheap Chinese imports and the strength of the euro. Some of Italy's biggest fashion brands are accepting that they may have to make elements of their most luxurious lines outside of the country, forfeiting the "Made in Italy" label. Nevertheless, the question is begged, how will status-conscious consumers of luxury goods respond to an expensive product by a Milanese designer which is not labelled "Made in Italy" but, perhaps, "Made in China"?

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