Miuccia Prada’s success: passion, hard work, audacity, sense of anticipation and follow instincts

In a rare interview Miuccia Prada has recently spoken to WWD about the basic principles that have been driving her unplanned success.

WWD: You have been in the forefront of fashion for years, yet you retain a mystique that fascinates people. Can you explain it?

Miuccia Prada: I just work. I really don’t know because it’s not done on purpose. It’s not that I have a system. Basically, it’s the liking of fashion. It goes back to that. Fashion. And what is good for fashion are changes. I am becoming the biggest supporter of fashion.

WWD: What do you mean?

Miuccia Prada: Fashion expresses—it’s not my idea; I read it, I don’t know where—people want to change. This will to change is a deep human desire or wish. The change is what drives me. Part of fashion is a process. After something, you do something new. You want to create. I usually start with fashion and after, I introduce all the rest.

WWD: The spring furs were such a hit—did you expect that?

Miuccia Prada: Yes, I know when I’m doing something interesting; basically, when you get excited about something.Yes, I know when I’m doing something interesting; basically, when you get excited about something.

WWD: What old power are women losing?

Miuccia Prada: It’s the side that pleases men. It’s not a direct power but a power through men, which I hate but we have so much in ourselves. It’s all the feminist discourse

WWD: When you were in the phase characterized as minimal, what were you hiding?

Miuccia Prada: What I’m trying not to hide now. Mostly, you have to have courage. For instance, in this show, it’s about what I said about impossibilities. So many things are impossible. It’s impossible to show too much of your womanly side. Not impossible, but nearly. Exaggeration is not allowed so much anymore, at least for me.

Until the Seventies or Eighties, there was still a group of elite that kind of lived among themselves. It was economic or social. Eccentricity was possible because you were living among equals, a small elite. This does not exist anymore. You live with so many people. Everybody is much more public. There is no place for this elite that made fashion more eccentric than is possible now. Now there is everybody. Rich, poor, Chinese, black, any kind of religion, any kind of race. [All kinds of people] live everywhere in the world. You have also to have decency, let’s say. If you look too rich or too eccentric, you look ridiculous.

WWD: How has it impacted what attracts you in art?

Miuccia Prada: It’s very complicated. All this starts with the fact that fashion is very much criticized…I don’t see why, for instance, the design [in other areas] is accepted and considered noble and fashion is not. Not that I have anything against design… Fashion is kind of a scandal. There is something that deeply disturbs people. It’s all my life that I try to understand why.

WWD: When designing a collection, do you think about the customer as you are designing?

Miuccia Prada: 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: Do you like spending time in the stores?

Miuccia Prada: 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: Has your creative process, the physical process of it, has it changed since the IPO?

Miuccia Prada: No. I’m actually feeling liberated.

WWD: Is the focus now on China, in terms of expansion?

Miuccia Prada: 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…. Difficult because you know them (Chinese) 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: E-commerce. Prada has been conservative in this arena.

Yes, we don’t like it. I don’t care. My husband hates it and we think for luxury it’s not right 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.

Internet and social media

Miuccia Prada: 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.

adaptede from WWD

Miuccia Prada at the end of the catwalk show for Fall Winter 2013-2014 MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images