Mrs. Prada, as she is known, who stands at about 5 foot 4 inches, usually gives little away, but when I met her I found her just about ready to open out of her enigma. Some designers are seekers of trends, but Prada actually is the trend, season after season, leaving others spinning at her heels as she unfolds her singular vision of what a woman can be. People keep saying: “How does she do it?” And the secret may lie in how she connects to the spirit of the age: she is a curious capitalist philosopher with a brilliant instinct for modern desire. She is a designer not afraid to reach into what makes people human, asking odd questions, then coming back with very elegant answers.
“Fashion is about the way we compose ourselves every day,” Mrs. Prada once wrote. This was on my mind when I met her at her headquarters in the Via Bergamo. The rain was coming down heavily when Prada arrived in a dark blue Audi and quickly dashed into one of the gray buildings. She was charming from the moment we sat down, and filled, you might say, with the easy laughter of strong conviction, the mirth of certainty. And yet Prada is pleased to live within her contradictions. It may be the thing that makes her able to create menacing, interesting work: in her core she is equally unafraid of failure and success.