WWD: The fashion/art connection—has it become just another trend?
M.P.: I think fashion embraces everything that is happening, everything in society and vice versa. Other creative fields find in fashion openness, comprehension, money—not necessarily money, but interest. People in fashion are open to music, open to movies, open to art, open to architecture. In the fashion world, there is a lot of enthusiasm. Also, speed. Speed is very much envied by other fields. You want something, you do it; it’s quick. A piece of architecture takes five years to build, a movie maybe less. But fashion is instant. You have an idea, you do it and after, change—good and bad.
WWD: When designing a collection, do you think about the customer as you are designing?
M.P.: No, never. You have to be in contact with people indirectly. You can’t study. It has to be completely instinctive, but of course, your instinct is an accumulation of all of your knowledge.
WWD: You don’t think about the customer when designing, but you certainly talked about creating merch that will sell. Is there an emotional connection that comes?
M.P.: Of course. We have to sell, because otherwise you close. So there are different moments. The creative moment has to be separated from that, but after, if I could do the buying…
WWD: You would do everything if you could, right?
M.P.: If I could. But I don’t do it all.
WWD: Do you like spending time in the stores?
M.P.: No, because I am so terrified that what I see is not reflecting my ideas. I nearly don’t go. I’m scared to go.
WWD: Seventy percent of the business is in your own stores, right?
M.P.: Now we want to try even more.
WWD: You want to eliminate wholesale?
M.P.: Except department stores and a few [smaller stores] in a few places.
WWD: Why eliminate the others?
M.P.: They decide what they want to buy from you, and you don’t want that. Mainly, in a moment of crisis, they tend to buy what is ugliest, what is easy, what is more safe. And after, [they] discover maybe the bestsellers are something completely new. The buying is a very difficult process. I think it is the most difficult part.
WWD: Has your creative process, the physical process of it, has it changed since the IPO?
M.P.: No. I’m actually feeling liberated.
M.P.: The company is doing so well. In a way, being public is easier than dealing with bankers. And we are used to be being public. Our company was so public always anyways that it didn’t do any difference. It’s a bigger responsibility, but for sure we can stand this responsibility. Or I can stand it.
WWD: Is the focus now on China, in terms of expansion?
M.P.: We have so many markets potentially, and that is one. Everybody talks about China, of course, it’s a broad market. But still, kind of small…Also filling Europe, filling America. Everywhere. In the newspapers, it seems there only exists China. It’s not true. Of course, they are affluent, but also an easy and difficult client at the same time.
M.P.: Easy because they have money and the will to spend.
WWD: Why difficult?
M.P.: Difficult because you know them less. It is difficult to understand what they have in mind. For this European culture, more or less you know. For American culture, more or less you know. But when it comes to such a different culture, and you want [product] that is not just appealing because of the label but because of the content.
WWD: Do you design specifically for various markets?
M.P.: The buyers do the selection. You don’t know if their selection is a cliché, or if they are right. That is basically the buying process. There are so many preconceptions or prejudice about the tastes of [women in various markets].
Of course the profession of buying is difficult. The buyers try to understand, but often it’s the opposite of all [their] criteria that’s the biggest success. That’s what I like about it.
WWD: E-commerce. Prada has been conservative in this arena.
M.P.: Yes, we don’t like it. I don’t care. My husband hates it and we think for luxury it’s not right.
WWD: Why do you think it doesn’t work for luxury?
M.P.: It’s good in countries that don’t have the shop nearby. [Otherwise] the choosing and sending home is too complicated. Personally, I’m not interested.
WWD: What about social media?
M.P.: We are always interested in the Internet. We do incredible movies, we even did a Polanski movie. Now we have a huge project for art that is done on the Internet.
WWD: Is that relating to Venice?
M.P.: Venice, yes, for the Foundation [Fondazione Prada, which supports contemporary art]. So we do a lot of content that seems to be good…But when they do the ranking, we are never in a good position. What is needed is something more superficial, probably. At least, when I read reviews of other companies. It seems easy to navigate and they like very simple, stupid things sometimes.
[Prada went off the record to give an interactive, merchandise-related example.]
If that is being genius, sorry but I prefer to be stupid.
WWD: The more mundane, the better, perhaps?
M.P.: Brava. Exactly.
WWD: Prada and Miu Miu have Facebook accounts and YouTube channels. Have you been converted to Twitter?
M.P.: I don’t even have a computer. I have the computers of all the people around me. Of course, I’m super interested. I think it’s a fundamental place.
WWD: But you don’t Tweet?
M.P.: I have no time to do it.
WWD: Is there someone who Tweets for the company?
M.P.: Yes, when we do the special events. [Otherwise, no.] You have to spend your life answering. Sometimes people hire somebody else to give answers. Here, the dictate is if I say something, I have to say something. Otherwise, I prefer not to answer.
WWD: Let’s talk about Miu Miu. Backstage you said that so much intense work went into Prada that you wanted Miu Miu to be more lighthearted.
M.P.: The press must be so bored of seeing fashion [by the time Miu Miu shows, on the last day of the season] that you have to do something new. For this season, the silhouette I thought was very interesting. It’s very difficult.
WWD: There was such a charm there. Is charm important?
M.P.: Yes. And because I have less time to think, I have to choose between ideas and fashion. I choose fashion, because fashion is my job.
WWD: Do you acknowledge a thread? The shows were very different, but each with a Forties feel.
M.P.: Yes. Because for sure, there is one fashion that I think is relevant. You can develop different aspects, but it’s not that one is totally dramatic and the other is totally romantic…Prada comes first. For instance, what we were thinking could be for Miu Miu if we needed, we put in Prada. You have to do it the best you can. Also, what happens in Paris dictates or makes you eliminate many things.
WWD: What do you mean?
M.P.: Many times [at Miu Miu] I’ve eliminated something I loved because somebody else did it in a way that we thought was slightly too [close]…It is a nightmare. That is the worst.
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WWD: Miu Miu was so specific. How do you start throwing out last minute? M.P.:This season, we liked the idea of the polka dots, but I thought it was maybe not special enough. But it was so perfect as this kind of femininity that in the end we did it.
You always hope that your idea is not done by somebody else. Basically, that is the nightmare for Miu Miu. For Prada, you have time to change and rethink the same concept in different ways.
WWD: There’s another kind of fashion show that people obsess about and in which you recently had a starring role—the red carpet.
M.P.: I think for actresses, it is such a big drama. It’s not easy for anybody and they have to do it and they have to interest people. They have to be very correct. They can’t risk. I’m sure that it’s a very difficult moment for them.
WWD: You say “They can’t risk.” Is that code for boring? I remember Uma Thurman in that gorgeous lavender Prada. That seems a lifetime ago, before the cookie-cutter machine took over.
M.P.: I think they are pressed by agents. I don’t know the whole system there. They are so afraid to get it wrong…They have to look beautiful; they have to look thin. I don’t think they are happy.
WWD: During the most recent Oscars red carpet, at least two very accomplished, very beautiful actresses said, “I didn’t have anything to do with my dress—my team picked it.”
M.P.: This, I don’t understand. If I were an actress, I would pick my own dress. Or collaborate. I think it’s a difficult moment for everybody. It’s slightly inhuman.
WWD: It’s become enormous.
M.P.: And you don’t even know if it’s really worthwhile. But I do think for [Anne Hathaway to wear] our dress to win the Oscar—it’s important.
WWD: Back to the runway, few designers stage two major shows. Does it ever become too much? Are the shows worth it?
M.P.: It is fundamental. I wouldn’t work so much or stress myself if I didn’t have to do shows. It’s the moment I stress myself and work. You are a fashion designer, you have all the journalists in front of you and they want you to be good. It’s a huge pressure, but it makes me think and stress and work.
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Miuccia Prada & Catherine Martin dress Gatsby opening cocktail party
Miuccia Prada has collaborated with Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer Catherine Martin to create a collection of over 40 unique Miu Miu and Prada cocktail and evening dresses for the movie “The Great Gatsby"
Miuccia Prada, head of luxury brand label, speaks of fascination with 'ugliness'
Miuccia Prada, the designer whose eponymous label and its associated brands are now worth £3 billion, has spoken of her fascination with "ugliness".
Claire Duffin | 25 August 2013
It is a word rarely used in the fashion industry, but insisted she found it far more interesting than "beauty".
In an interview with theTelegraph's Stella magazine, Prada said she had been criticised for her approach to fashion, which was seen as allowing the trashy into the world of haute couture, when she took over the family fashion house in 1978 .
It was originally set up by Mario Prada, her grandfather, as a maker of leather goods in Milan but is now one of the world's leading fashion brands.
However in the interview, which is published next week, Prada said she did not see herself as part of the conventional fashion industry.
"When I started, fashion was the worst place to be if you were a leftist feminist. It was horrid. I had a prejudice, yes, I always had a problem with it," she said.
"I suppose I felt guilty not to be doing something more important, more political. So in a way I am trying to use the company for these other activities."
Prada, 64, runs the brand with her husband Patrizio Bertelli, and jointly built up its commercial success.
however the inspiration for the designs remains her own, including, she said, her unusual interest in ugliness.
"Ugly is attractive, ugly is exciting. Maybe because it is newer," she said.
"The investigation of ugliness is, to me, more interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty. And why? Because ugly is human.
"It touches the bad and the dirty side of people. You know, this might have been a scandal in fashion but in other fields of art it is common: in painting and in movies it was so common to see ugliness.
"But, yes, it was not used in fashion and I was very much criticised for inventing the trashy and the ugly."
Prada is unusual in being a woman at the head of a fashion company and said she was conscious of her gender, and also the balance of raising a family - she and her husband have two grown-up sons - and running a firm.
"Sometimes I still feel that women don't appreciate their position in society," she said.
"That we are not strong enough to impose our thinking. We don't like businesswomen: we go against women who appear to be like men.
"I chose a compromise, a complete compromise. I chose a bit of avant-garde, a bit of fashion, and for me it works. I don't want to reject my past because I have it so deeply inside me. To be nice with a man, I don't think it's so bad."