Lisa Tant goes behind the scenes at the Prada collection in Milan

One of my favourite shows of Milan Fashion Week was Prada. Some seasons, I just don’t get Muiccia Prada’s offbeat mix of sour colours, textured fabrics and silhouettes but her Fall 2010 collection was one of my favourites. As I watched the models stride criss-cross around the theatre space, I thought that is what Betty Draper (January Jones character in Mad Men) would wear if she was a working girl today. Apparently, Prada wasn’t channeling Mad Men but going back to her roots of exploring sexy secretaries looks.

Focus was on the breast with rows of ruffles stacked across the chest, strategically placed darts, or bands curving up and under the bust line. Her retro inspired prints on fitted dresses looked familiar as did the stunning jet beading on an evening coat.

Prada always innovates with fabric. The big surprise this season was a laminated jersey that I would have sworn was high-gloss pleather. Many of the pieces were knitted (a fall trend) and while the sweater sets looked a bit bulky, I loved a knit fit-and-flare dress with frilled bustline.

The label’s handbags and footwear always set the pace for the season. The currently popular shoe sculpture – the higher, the wackier, the better – was gone and replaced by ladylike patent stilettos trimmed with bows, and loafers with solid heels. Bags were trimmed with colourful patent fastenings and totes looked knitted.

While many moaned that the collection was “safe” (no ravaged hemlines or chunks of chandeliers), I thought it was intelligent and well designed for a woman – versus an ingenue.

I’ll be back next week. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter.