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VOGUE USA-AMERICAN VOGUE-MARCH 2024-MIUCCIA PRADA SEES THE WORLD-Brand New

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“””””””PLACE THE ORDER WITHOUT ANY HESITATIONS””””””

 

How Miuccia Prada Sees the World

BY WENDELL STEAVENSON

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEF MITCHELL

STYLED BY ALEX HARRINGTON

 

It was November and a little windy on the balcony of the Ca’ Corner della Regina, the 18th-century palazzo that is home to the Prada Foundation in Venice, where Miuccia Prada was posing for photographs against the backdrop of the Grand Canal. She clasped a red silk coat (from her very first collection in 1988) over a citrine sweater, bright and sharp against the gray sky and the terra-cotta, ochre, and verdigris of deliquescent Venice. She wore no discernible makeup; her long blond-and-auburn hair was unstyled and hung in soft curls at her shoulders. When it fanned in the breeze, she joked about looking very 1990s, like Cindy Crawford in a wind machine.

 

Afterward, several of us gathered around a table for lunch. Mrs. Prada, as she is deferentially known, took off the two grand gold necklaces (one of lions’ heads) and the other medallions she was wearing and laid them on an adjacent chair, as if relinquishing the heavy chains of office, and began, Italian-mama style, to spoon rice onto our plates. The lunch was simple: chicken patties, braised endive, spinach, and salad. The vegetables, she said, came from her garden in Tuscany—oh, yes, she nodded, she takes a close interest in the planting. There is not much, I would come to understand, that Prada does not take a close interest in.

 

Prada, now 74, reminded me of the late Queen of England: a diminutive older lady, magnificently costumed, who commands a regal presence with a softly-spoken manner and a genuine curiosity about both things and people. She is surprisingly warm, self-​deprecating, and has a gentle, musical laugh. We discussed the current exhibition at the palazzo, “Everybody Talks About the Weather,” a thought-provoking interplay of historical paintings, contemporary artworks, and scientific information about the climate crisis. Prada lamented that it was difficult to find curators who could link art and academic inquiry to put on the kind of ambitious, multidisciplinary exhibitions she wanted the foundation to show. She had been struggling, for example, to find the right person to oversee an exhibition on feminism: Who could unite such a disparate field—and how best to communicate complex and challenging concepts?

 

“I want culture to be attractive,” she said.

 

When lunch was over, Prada helped clear away the plates to a side table, looped the heavy chains back around her neck, and our interview began.

 

“Fashion is one third of my life,” said Prada, who has created two celebrated fashion labels, Prada and Miu Miu, and, together with her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, helms the Prada Group, a global luxury brand with $4.5 billion in annual revenue (as of 2022) and over 13,000 employees. (Prada Group also has a stake in Church’s shoes.) The second third of her life, she says, is “culture and the Fondazione.” Since its creation in 1993, the Prada Foundation has become a leading proponent of contemporary art. “After, there is family and friends, and possibly some pleasures.” She paused to reconsider. “Actually, they all overlap. I try to make my life useful.”

 

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