Prada is, always, the biggest show of each fashion season. No one manages to be ahead of the trends quite like that PhD-holder Miuccia Prada, whose wares women love and men can't even find remotely sexy. Prada's looks are always "intellectual" and "provocative," but not in the bullshit way those terms are usually banded about: She plays with ideas, perverts expectations, and — sorry, menfolk — knows more about sex than Dr. Drew and Sue Johansson combined. Her fall/winter 2008 collection was done nearly all in lace. But no frou-frou doily shit here. Oh no: This was lace for tough chicks. Dominatrixes never had it so good. Annotated gallery of selected images — there was a black model! — begins below, with the critics' rave reviews after the jump.

Ms. Prada's black lace dresses are something else. Lace is the fabric of women's lives, from christening robes to bridal gowns to widow's weeds. (And let us harmonize: We are fashion nuns!)...Ms. Prada took a single idea and stayed with it, working the black and beige lace (or orange and blue lace) into coats and slim dresses and tops with stiff satin peplums, all over bodysuits or white cotton shirts... Structurally, proportionally, the clothes were very direct and simple — the ruffled edges of some of the 1940s dresses repeated in the suede and patent-leather pumps and nylon bags. The lace becomes the intellectual and emotional catalyst. You can't not ask if the dresses are indecent — many of them are, after all, transparent. But Ms. Prada has made sure that it's not the only question her collection raises against the female self.

— Cathy Horyn, New York Times

Then came the first shot of arsenic and old lace: the lace worked in flowers, crunchy or transparent, with the kicker in the sexual charge coming literally from underneath in the case of transparent panels showing and revealing clinging underpants and alabaster white thighs...It was a remarkable show, powerful in its presentation as the models descended the ramp, but above all original, inspiring and intensely Prada in its mix of the prim and the perverse...As if in a Fellini movie, there was a clerical hint to the buttoned-up collars and a sense that Prada was unleashing on the fashion universe both a lace revival and erotic dreams.

—Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune

Miuccia Prada offered a new form of austere sexuality, with lace as the new tool of seduction... butt there was a perverse side to her vision, too. The silhouette almost obliterated the breasts; indeed the entire upper body was shielded, from waist to a tiny, high-set governess like collar which finished just under the chin. Instead the clothes created erogenous zones on the hips - emphasized with a boned, "peplum" skirt, fastened with a buckle - and bare legs, which were glimpsed through the intricate floral patterns of heavy, Guipure lace.

— Hilary Alexander, Telegraph

...Prada sent out a brilliant lace-based collection that was feminine, strong and intriguingly austere, and that owed debts to haute couture as well as early Nineties Prada (call up those Geek Chic button-up shirts)... Prada leapt a world away to a place all about arch control done up in lace, a material she had long disliked until she happened upon a certain swatch and found herself obsessed. Of course, hers is not of the prissy ilk... In fact, everything about it amazed, starting with the long, lean silhouette punctuated by leather snoods for the hair and those shoes that featured offbeat ruffled extensions...Yet for all of the surface interest, a sense of confident calm prevailed, with an undercurrent of minimalism in spirit if not in fact. Lest one miss that point, the designer de-laced momentarily with a skirt and dress stark in their unfettered beigeness.


it was no surprise that last night's keenly awaited catwalk collection was — within the parameters of the quirky Prada aesthetic — a very commercial one. Semi-sheer guipure lace dresses and skirt suits in black or coffee were both elegant and rather avant-garde, which is precisely the kind of combination for which women are prepared to pay the prices Prada charge.

— Jess Cartner-Morley, Guardian

Miuccia Prada doesn't do uniforms (unless they're vaguely fascistic, and ironic) and she certainly doesn't do sexy, at least not in the conventional sense. It's odd though, because at her show last night — one of the most anticipated and the most thought-provoking — the models wore lots of sheer lace, in black, gold, blue, camel and brown, with little else, apart from buttoned-up mens' shirts and bib fronts; the shirt-tails providing a fig-leaf of modesty over their bottoms... But this was by far the best show of the season. It sounds nerdish to get worked up about a fabric, but Prada managed to spin a whole new aesthetic from her lace, which is more usually associated with brides, babies and hookers, mixing heavy woollen guipure lace with lighter, finer lace, and even silk dresses screen-printed to look like lace.

— Lisa Armstrong, Times of London

Tuesday night's collection was a knockout with models descending a curved runway like superwomen from the sky. Longer length, black pencil skirts sprouted ruffles like wings, with the odd men's shirt collar peeking out from the neckline of a dress, hinting at a woman's masculine side. Come fall, everyone will be wearing lace because this was a collection resplendent in the stuff. In black, brown, navy or gold, lace became three-dimensional, with lace flower appliqués fused on top of full skirts that reached below the knee. True to Prada's kinky side, some pieces were see-through, because a woman's sexuality is part of her power.

— Booth Moore, Los Angeles Times

[A]s usual, there can be no mistaking this designer's work for anyone else's, season by season... I found the whole thing stimulating because it made me think that these ruffle and lace textiles, like people in general, have been stereotyped in certain roles, but can break free. Artists should make us think, and Ms. Prada is definitely an artist. But how to wear those unlined lace suits? On the runway, Ms. Prada had the models wear body suits, shorts and other clothes underneath. Very theatrical, but that would look weird on Main Street. So I asked her later if she would line them in the store. "Of course," Ms. Prada quickly replied, grinning. Then she played with the thought, and pondered whether she might leave a few unlined for more daring clients. She has a genuine demeanor, but I swear her smile was a little wicked.

— Christina Barkley, Wall Street Journal

Earlier: Miuccia Prada Puts End To Fashion Week Apartheid