Monday, April 23, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

Miuccia Prada is someone I have respect for as a woman, and as a designer. Mrs Prada has never, not even for a moment, lost her integrity, and seems to put her family and core beliefs about how to live a good, intelligent life before some of the more shallow trappings of success. Prada still lives in the same apartment she raised her two sons in, and at 62, is more interested in evolving as a human being than swishing around being fabulous. I guess the point is, with her rigour, she has no need to put on a front. Her pleasures are internal. As a designer she keeps things interesting by being avant garde, and, well, most designers go off the boil for periods of their career, but not her. Miuccia Prada is never, ever boring.

So it was a rare pleasure on Saturday morning to read an interview with Prada in the Times Magazine by my favourite fashion grande dame Sarah Mower. The interview served to reinforce my thoughts on the woman and renewed my interest in her body of work. Sarah's perceptive piece truly captured the essence of the woman and nailed her approach to work and feelings about success in a warm and moving way that only increased my admiration for both of them. For those who missed the magazine, I've scissored my favourite bits, saves you going through the paywall.

Miuccia Prada (image from


“I don’t have a sense of it. Thank God!” she laughs. “Otherwise I would not sleep at night. I’ve always obsessed about what I had to do but never looking at myself from the outside. Probably I am highly ambitious – but in the sense that I want to do intelligent things. I want to be good. I never think about the corporation.”

Prada SS12 (image from cat


"..I’m curious about what she thinks of being the subject of an exhibition she hasn’t curated. The fashion world is full of control freaks who would have a meltdown at the very thought. But Prada respects the Metropolitan Museum’s independence. “They wanted to analyse the similarities between me and Schiaparelli. I don’t know if there are that many, but anyhow. Neither of us trained as a fashion designer, so we were interested in a wider sense of the world. We both started later in life. But I’m happy that they think she was a fashion revolutionary, and that… er… I am in my time.”

She’s pleased by the scale and importance of the event, clearly, but I don’t think Miuccia Prada gets her satisfaction, or her motivation, from public recognition. What she cares about above anything else is originality. “Some seasons I know what I’m doing, and others I realise as I’m working on the collection. I never know the title of a collection until two days before [a show].”

Elsa and Miuccia (image from


"But when I ask her to sum it up by answering a dumb-simple question – “What is the Prada look?” – she stops in her tracks. “I don’t have an answer to that,” she says. “It is bad for commerce! But, eh,” she continues, “it is an advantage as well as a disadvantage, because in the end you can change and update. If you fix on one look, and that look goes out of fashion, what do you do?” So that means you just want to lead? She leans forward and practically shouts, “Yes! And that’s since ever!” She said it.

Prada's Bad Taste collection, 1996 (image from


Bertelli [her husband] only winkled out her designing ambition when he said they’d have to hire someone else if she refused to do it. As a PhD in political science and an ex-member of the Communist party and active feminist, she was mortified. “I probably had high resistance because of the political situation. It was seriously a nightmare. I was so ashamed,” she sighs. “Obviously, I liked it. But I had serious difficulty finding myself a fashion designer.”
Even when the troubles had died down, the big-shouldered executive suits of Armani and the sexy glitziness of Versace grated on the young feminist’s sensibilities. Her response was to design minimal styles using plain fabrics derived from army, school and maids’ uniforms. “Minimalism was a way of obstructing ideas. I wanted to hide my ideas and my thinking.”

Prada AW09  (image from 


“I’m happy when I think I do something very clever,” she says as I leave. “It happens once or twice a year, when I feel I’ve done something that makes sense. But actually, I never reflect on what I do, because I’m always busy.” So busy, in fact, that she must be the only female guest who hasn’t planned what to wear to the Met gala – she’ll decide the day before, she says. I don’t know, but I’d like to see her nipping up those museum steps wearing trousers among all those trains."

Prada AW12 (image from

I'd love to be able to send you to a website full of Prada's latest guipure and gem bombers and swirling car print skirts. Alas, none are to be had on the Internet. However, the Prada site does provide us with jewels, shoes and bags galore...

Go Faster clutch 620E Prada Store
Jewels 1290E Prada Store 

Perfect summer heels 570E Prada Store

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