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The Prada Armada


Left: The theater-cum-stairs at the Soho store (as seen pre-fire). Right: The "Waist Down" exhibit at Prada's main Tokyo store.  

Do you do a lot of business now in China?
We have twelve stores there. But I think it will become very big.

The Soho store opened at the end of the pre-9/11 boom years—a time when you were planning an IPO. Is it different now to run a luxury company?
After September 11, all of the problems—let’s say they were already there—came to the surface. Afterwards, it became more healthy for the company. More reasonable. And now we are doing very, very well.

Is the era of expansion over for Prada? You bought Helmut Lang and Jil Sander, and both designers ended up leaving.
The era of buying companies? I think that maybe [clears throat] it was a mistake, but at the moment you have to more or less do what happens in your business. So that was a kind of common idea that it was possible to be done in the crazy optimism of that moment. In the end it’s not so easy. And also, um, it’s a very complicated subject, and I don’t know that I can say the whole truth about it. It was very difficult for everybody. If we meet privately, I will tell the truth! [Laughs]

What about all these rumors about your working with H&M?
They’ve asked me. I always said no, not because I don’t like the idea, I just don’t like the idea of doing bad copies of what I’m doing. And I don’t have the time, and maybe even the ability, to do a collection with them. If you want to do a collection that costs less, you have to do it with different materials and different ideas.

Why do other people do it?
I don’t know. Because of course they’re attracted by the fame you can get. Just because you want to do something new that people talk about. I don’t know how much real interest there is in doing fashion that is not expensive but is creative.

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