Miuccia Prada's Material World

What is the most vital source of inspiration for fashion designers? If you ask Miuccia Prada, fabric is the key to shaping future silhouettes

Courtesy Prada

A fabric archive Miuccia Prada uses to develop her collections.

Not so long ago, the spectacle of fashion was in the fabric, not the celebrity-filled front row. The material mattered more than the scene—more than the next It handbag. I remember visiting Yves Saint Laurent's studio for an haute couture preview when the designer himself was still working, fitting dresses on models. Saint Laurent and his aide-de-camp Loulou de La Falaise were yanking huge bolts of color-saturated Abraham silk down from the shelves and spinning out a fantasy scene of a hot summer day in New Orleans circa 1860, complete with big taffeta skirts and wide-brimmed hats. It was as if...

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