luca bruno/associated press

Above and below, the turban played a starring role on Miuccia Prada’s spring 2007 runway in Milan this week.

Is the key to next summer’s fashion all in a hat, or more specifically in the elusive, enticing turban, the No. 1 accessory in Milan’s round of preview showings for the Spring-Summer 2007?

“Turbans are easy, quick and powerful,” said Miuccia Prada backstage, after her much applauded collection presented Tuesday evening. Earlier in the week, Giorgio Armani said he used the turban to underline femininity, while Dolce & Gabbana outfitted their club girls with turban shaped headbands.

The Prada woman needs power to don her new clothes, which, like her headgear, are enigmatic rather than energetic.

It’s not surprising that after her aggressive warrior collection for winter, Prada would opt for a calmer take on summer fashion. But the uniform-like collection with its concentration on the upper body and towering heels with little in-between was puzzling.

“There are no complicated thoughts this round,” said the designer famous for her cerebral fashion. “This time it’s just about fashion and making it more important.”

The show was centred around the tunic, often short enough to get a peek at the buttocks, and cinched at the waist with a brown leather belt. Other cheeky styles were the hot pants and bathing suit hemlines which accompanied the operating-table tunics often buttoned down the back.

The simplicity of the collection was pepped up by bright colours, geometric patterns (also painted on the walls of the Prada fashion theatre where the show was held), funky embroidery such as sequins made out of bottle caps, fringes on leather dresses and the latest Prada backpack, big enough for serious mountain hikes.

“The fringe is just a tacky idea that fit into my fashion for fashion concept,” Miuccia, in a belted grey uniform dress, hemmed just above the knee and buttoned down the back, told reporters backstage.

Earlier Tuesday, Consuelo Castiglioni, the woman behind the Marni label, plopped a stove pipe hat on her expressionless models to underline her new fashion esthetic.

The no-fuss summer collection marked a change for the designer known for her bucolic vision of fashion complete with folksy styles fashioned in pretty prints and tied in satin ribbons. Instead, there were monochrome shell-shaped tunics loose at the back and belted in front, worn with high heels and leggings: city chic of the minimalist kind.

There is definitely a 1960s — or is it 1940s? —feel to this round of preview showings, which Moschino took to town in fluffy baby doll dresses as well as proper little suits, and prim basic black and pearl cocktail dresses. The turban, of course, was part of the Moschino fashion roast.

On Wednesday, the accessory accent was more on the feet than on the head, with the introduction of a super sexy flat by Frida Giannini for Gucci.

Far from their frequent association with androgynous style, these low-heeled pumps and booties buckled at the ankle, in coloured suede or shimmering silver are sure to be a hot — and copied — item next summer.