#SuzyMFW: Prada: Frankenstein Mark Two

The pursuit of prettiness is not something usually associated with Miuccia Prada. An appeal for beauty – yes, perhaps. But the designer is better known for the ugly aesthetic that defined the 1990s and which has remained her most powerful playing card.

Add now the cult of Frankenstein, love and fear as exemplified in the Mary Shelley book of 1818 and, two centuries later, by Prada. She made the subject the core of her menswear collection in January, while references for the women’s show appeared as prints on the chest of the models’ outfits.

“I would say that it reflects the current world, where there is a lot of danger, a lot of fear, a lot of war around us,” said Prada. “Romance is an idea of opportunism, of good will, and of good sentiment – the opposite of fear. This is about love stories and introducing something positive. Romance means ideas.”

So, love in the time of upheaval, ugliness and rage, presented as excessive prettiness: a red rose apparently growing across the bosoms of a sporty white dress with a bouquet of yellow roses climbing from hem to high thigh. More sinister were black roses on a black dress, flowers that looked funereal.

Then, around the corner of Prada’s huge, square show space, illuminated with lines of light, came a smothering of flowers on a prim black dress: roses, rhododendrons and lilies, like a digitally grown garden.

This all seemed like familiar Prada territory, with love in life’s mix and sex lurking down there. Some of the most striking outfits were a group of tight-fitting military jackets with puffer sleeves and just a slither of flowery black lace as a sexually charged skirt.

Next up in Prada’s game of contrasts was tweed covering the body as a hefty dress, while the bosoms spilled over a blood red satin bow. In the tweedy mix was stolid outerwear that might be nothing more than a simple zipper jacket.

Why was there a sense that the models were walking a beaten path in clothes that were appealingly modern but also definitively Prada? Because, for all the magnificent hyper-modern construction as part of the Fondazione Prada, the clothes themselves were not exceptional or extraordinary. Just thoughtfully made for 21st-century women. Most of the potential customers would say amen to that, but not Prada herself, who is an intellectual warrior – and worrier.

“I think it is a big problem that fashion is an industry producing stuff for rich people,” she said. “But fashion is sometimes required to talk about more , because it’s very popular. It represents other concepts, and that is scary because combining politics and fashion is at the risk of superficiality. But, of course, that was always my personal problem in my life.”