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Prada combines soft and strong elements for its winter collection
















By Giulia Segreti

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Prada brought to the catwalk soft and strong designs in an attempt to define the role of women in society, in a powerful show ending the second day of Milan's fashion week.

The women imagined by Miuccia Prada, founder and creative director of the eponymous luxury group, wore corduroy pants, biker berets, and long velvet skirts that recalled women protests of the 1970s.

"I don't want to talk politics with fashion... but I want to do it my way, in a subtle way," Miuccia Prada told reporters ahead of the show.

Models paraded down the catwalk to the sound of electronic music wearing woollen caps, rough brown pant suits and duffle coats. The set appeared to be a home, filled with cozy seats and beds with flower linens and posters on the walls.

Their heads were adorned by bonnets that resembled lion manes, making them appear regal and strong.

But moments later they slipped into sequined colored, designs decorated with delicate marabou feathers or knee-length mermaid tail skirts.

"(In the collection) there are all those typical womanly things, like flowers and fringes and feathers... mixed with more serious clothes, made for a combating woman," said Prada, adding that all sides of a woman should coexist.

She explained that the matching of the pieces of her collections were "crude, immediate and direct, not sophisticated" and the frequent use of wool pieces was symbolic of both women at home and of fashion in the 70s.

"There are random touches of whatever came to my mind," she said.

Still run by its founders, Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, Prada sticks to its subdued elegance through which it conveys clear messages.

Designer Prada, a great lover and supporter of contemporary art, uses her clothes as a canvas for experimenting with fashion, colors, textiles and textures, yet never distancing herself from her well-established, and admired, identity.

The Hong-Kong listed group said last week that sales had accelerated in the past two months, particularly in China and Russia, and that it expects to return to profit growth this year. The Milan-based group reported a 10 percent fall in revenue for 2016.

Milan Fashion Week runs until Feb. 27, with major brands Giorgio Armani, Versace, Missoni and Dolce & Gabbana still to unveil their designs.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; editing by Diane Craft)