Miuccia Prada: ‘Anything one does these days can cause offence’

Miuccia Prada has hit back after Prada was accused of cultural appropriation with their Pradamalia collection, insisting “anything one does today can cause offence”.The Italian fashion brand found themselves in hot water recently when civil rights lawy…

Miuccia Prada has hit back after Prada was accused of cultural appropriation with their Pradamalia collection, insisting “anything one does today can cause offence”.

The Italian fashion brand found themselves in hot water recently when civil rights lawyer Chinyere Ezie called them out for the range, which featured monkeys with exaggerated red lips and drew comparisons to blackface caricatures.

After Ezie accused them of using “racist and denigrating blackface imagery” in the collection, Prada pulled the imagery from circulation and displays, and issued an apology. They also announced their decision to set up an advisory council in the wake of the scandal “to guide our efforts on diversity, inclusion and culture”.

But asked about the controversy by WWD recently, Miuccia, the co-chief executive officer and lead creative director of Prada, played down the talk of cultural appropriation.

“I increasingly think anything one does today can cause offence,” she explained. “There can sometimes be a lack of generosity but, on the other hand, how can we know all cultures? The Chinese protest, then the Sikh, then Mexicans, then Afro-Americans. But how can you know the details of each single culture so well when there can be 100 different cultures in every country?”

Miuccia also stated that fear of being accused of racism can impinge on her creativity as a fashion designer.

“People want respect because now there is talk of cultural appropriation, but this is the foundation of fashion, as it has always been the basis of art, of everything,” she mused. “I talked about it with the Fondazione (Prada, an institution dedicated to contemporary art and culture), with the intellectuals, it really is a problem – one would have to set up ‘secret societies’ – otherwise there is no progressive thinking.

“If you are not free to say things that may also not be correct and you have to be careful every time you open your mouth, how can you talk with freedom of thought? This really is a turning point. The world is bigger and I understand this and I also understand that people finally have a voice and speak up.”

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