Miuccia Prada: On Art, Design and Why Prada is "Sexy"

Writing for Document Journal, The Independent's Alexander Fury sat down with "dream interviewee" Miuccia Prada to discuss everything from why she thinks all of her shows are “sexy” and her design process to why culture is absolutely necessary. Some of our favorite excerpts are below …  

On her start in fashion: When I started my work, when I started working, I did this show that was a scandal. Everybody hated what I was doing except a few clever people! Because it was not for the classic ones—there was something disturbing. And for the super trendy avant-gardists, it was too classic. I always like to move in that space, never please anybody. There is always something disturbing, which is probably what I am, and I like. They thought it was in horrible taste—the famous show about ‘Ugly Chic’, which I think is a terrible phrase, but that’s how it came out. In fashion, what was well-developed in literature, in movies, in art was badness. It was so normal. In fashion it was not accepted. Still now, I think that a part—the more conservative part—of the fashion world think that they’ll stick with the idea of glamour and beauty that is so obvious, so old. Even now, it’s not so much different.

On Fashion and Art: fashion is not art. It’s creative, it’s very creative. The only thing it has in common is the creativity. But it is completely different because…well, there’s all the polemic that the art world is more commercial! But art is working on absolute ideas, conceptual ideas in general … My work is commercial. It requires a lot of creativity. And my other point, or objective, or scope, is to introduce intelligence and culture in the work. To demonstrate that intelligence and even culture helps the commerce. But not in the sense that you put a few things in the shop, no. If you are cultivated, you do a better job. It’s not an extra.

On Culture: Culture, it’s such a horrible word for some people—culture? Ugh! It’s needed, it’s necessary, it helps your life, and it is very personal. Everything I learn in life I learn from books, from movies, from art. It was my way of becoming more cultivated, because I had to answer personal questions. I’m very attached to the concept that people should understand—young kids and so on—that culture is not something, out there, that is useless.

On “Sexy”: For me all my shows are super sexy! Everybody has a taste. How can you say what is sexy in general? Everybody has a point of view. For me, a beautiful woman with a bias dress with diamanté is the least sexy woman alive. I hope, also, to some men.

On her design process: It’s not that we do pieces, and then afterwards we choose and put them together. We start, really, from scratch: What are the concepts we want to approach? What are the fabrics? We can say: transparent, or heavy, or modernist, or flat, whatever. When we have no ideas…some seasons I have a clear direction, a clear idea. That is easy. When you don’t have a clear idea or you have vague concepts, and you start working, you know you’re doing nothing interesting. Then, when we start getting nearer, I start getting stressed. I really think alone, in bed, at five o’clock in the morning: “What do you really care about?”

Maybe one season was a white t-shirt. I was only interested in a white t-shirt. How can you show a white t-shirt? I don’t want to be a radical—if that’s what interests you, why? So, little by little, you start gathering a few things. Sometimes, for instance, Fabio tells me, “Miuccia, you have to start doing it!” I want to have the answer before I even start. And, actually, when you start, the answers come. I can’t have the title the first day, when you sit down and discuss the show. Everything is done for the show. There is nothing that is just there by chance. Sometimes, in some shows, we have nothing left—you start to funnel. Sometimes there is nothing left. It’s not like we choose between things that are there.