Mad Men, the cult American television series set at a New York advertising agency in the late 1950s, is already a cultural phenomenon, and watching Miuccia Prada's autumn/winter collection, one could draw a direct line between her best work over the years and that particular period's aesthetic. Modelled by a bevy of Victoria's Secret lingerie models - beauteous bombshells such as Miranda Kerr and Doutzen Kroes with their hair tucked into beehives - the clothes highlighted the pneumatic silhouette of the era. Necklines may have been high, sleeves long and hems at the knee, but suggestive darts at the bust or the ruffled bodices of fit-and-flare dresses bursting with eyelet frills emphasised a womanly shape.
For Prada, clothes are ostensibly classic and conservative, yet she has a way of producing a retro girlie look that, although covered up and ladylike, is also very seductive. In this collection, she subverted the demureness of a classic camel-knit sweater in this collection with a flaring black vinyl skirt and camel ciré jacket worn with pointy-toed shoes, and chose one of those odd 1960s wallpaper prints that she favours to add some restraint to a dress with a frilly bustline.
Jil Sander was, as to be expected, a more restrained affair, although the short skirts were almost transparent and there were occasional cut-outs or slits in a jacket or coat. In his time, the designer Raf Simons has produced some alluring and elegant dresses for Jil Sander; this time, though, he picked fairly masculine fabrics and tweeds and created some sedate and beautifully cut tailoring along with some curious little playsuits reminiscent of Victorian men's underwear.
DSquared proved to be the total antithesis of the primness seen thus far, with a collection full of hard-edged glamour. With their hair scraped back and their eyes and cheekbones emphasised, models in tightly fitted tailoring with slits in their skirts and red vinyl leggings looked as though they had stepped out of a Helmut Newton shoot. Take away the dramatic styling and there were some very nice suits that would be acceptable at a business dinner and cocktail dresses for a party. However, the moment for power dressing is passing and over the next few days at the Milan collections, we should get a clear idea of where fashion is going next.