She’s one of fashion’s greatest icons, pioneering her own style at the top of the industry for decades. This week, TALK ASIA sits down for a rare interview with Miuccia Prada at an exhibition of her work in Seoul. The designer discusses the impact of the recession, her inspirations and her early years as a mime artist and communist. She also addresses rumors of her fiery relationship with husband Patrizio Bertelli, with whom she transformed her family’s modest luggage company into one of the world’s most influential fashion empires.
The owner of both Prada and Miu Miu admits that even her loyal customers are having second thoughts amidst these tough financial times, “People are careful to spend money and they spend money only if they find something…really beautiful and perfect and exciting. So you can’t do and sell anything that is just some other things. You have to work much more to do object that are much more appealing.” She reveals that her business has suffered most in the U.S, Italy and Japan, but says: “Thank god the rest of the world is doing very very well.” She comments on China’s growing appetite for luxury: “I think that women there like clothes. They have nice and small bodies, so they fit really what we are doing. They really like being beautiful.”
Although the multi-billion dollar fashion empire ha d plans to list on the Milan stock exchange for years, Prada explains that timing is crucial: “Anytime we do it, there is some cataclysm. It was September 11th and now the crisis. We want to do it, but we wait until the moment is right.”
A former member of the Communist Party with a Ph.D. in political science, the 60-year-old designer does not believe her lack of formal education in design or needlework matters: “What counts is the final object, so that you’re able to do a drawing or not is totally useless.” She admits that sometimes her designs are “kind of strange and not perfect” but explains: “I don’t like things that are obvious and so I always try to introduce something that is wrong, something that is different. Just beauty by itself is too easy.”
On her husband, she shrugs off descriptions of their relationship as fiery: “That is really exaggerated because the fact that I’m still married means it’s not so bad, and that is his character, but people respect him a lot because he’s very generous, very honest and more or less he’s always right.”
Prada also shares her thoughts on her namesake Hollywood blockbuster – ‘The Devil Wears Prada’: “At the beginning I was worried. I say I don’t want to know anything about it…because I didn’t know what could come out, but Meryl Streep was so good.”