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Muiccia Prada's elegant, sophisticated Spring 2004 collection that paid homage to tradition without overwhelming the audience with cobwebbed vintage nostalgia was one of the highlights of Milan Fashion Week. Ms. Prada's challenging and trendsetting vision, contrasting starkly with others in the season who objectified the female form, is a breath of fresh air for an industry overly concerned with sex.

Prada's clothes are truly about the mastery of the cut, the sensuousness of the fabrics, the emotional impact of the colors and the timelessness of style. Retro full skirted fifties dresses with fitted bodices and wide self belts, sixties washed madras sports separates, belted slightly above the waist and eighties full skirted tulle dresses created a fun mélange of styles, thanks to the twist of Muiccia's special intellectual gift. A lovely circle skirt adorned with brown and beige scenery prints, worn with a grey fitted overlapping shirt (there quarters sleeves) tucked inside, finished off with brown leather shoes (black pointed toe caps and high stiletto heels ) provided the Prada show's most graceful, sinuous and flowing moment. A charming black dancing dress was also noteworthy; it was smooth, lithe and supple with a knee length full-pleated skirt, and a slightly loose bodice, embellished with a generous décolleté and fastened with a pink ribbon.

"There is a certain bad taste, but it looks so charming. When we do fittings we say, 'How awful and how charming,'" Muiccia Prada once admitted. Indeed, the irony inherent in Prada's work makes her creations irresistible to women who do not want their intellects and personalities overshadowed by the clothes that they wear.

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