Fassbinder's 1972 film The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant was the inspiration behind Prada's womenswear collection shown in Milan this evening. It was Act Two to her menswear (Act One) shown here last month and revealed a similar interest in both German art house cinema and Weimar culture more broadly.
In two orchestra pits - cut into a raised runway clad in grey and surrounded by a metal cage - live string and wind quartets were headed up by the soloist Barbara Sukowa, who played Lola in the Fassbinder film of the same name, singing Kurt Weill.
Prada argued backstage that she had no idea how the clothes related to any of all this which is typically - and deliberately - opaque.
Still, prints on rectilinear skirts that fell to below-the-knee appeared to be drawn from German Expressionist painting just as they whispered of the designer's own Formica prints. They were worn with chevron striped sloppy knits. Footwear - wedge heeled sandals and boots complete with nuts and bolts - spoke of Fritz Lang's Metropolis as did silver leather piping, framing dresses. Again, the former were also quintessential Prada: belle laide.
Clever referencing aside, the collection ultimately translated into the most desirable clothes. Oversized grey wool coats and jackets sprouted fur geometries. Shearling was equally scaled-up but here the bold and often jarring colour juxtapositions that Prada understands so well made an entrance: black lined with bright tomato; mustard with vivid purple.
Dresses started out perfectly simple: a liquid black tunic that stood away from the body worn over a grey rollneck was the first look out. Later silk was replaced by sheer organza following a similarly tubular line, now worn over big printed knickers or nothing more haute than a brown sleeveless sweater, say. More fur decorated their surfaces. Prada described it as 'poor' and as compared to summer's rainbow minks its effect was indeed more raw than rarefied.
'I wanted to transmit humanity,' the designer said. 'People, feeling and emotions.' For all their intellectual grandeur, these clothes did just that.