Agatha Ruiz de la Prada

The world in technicolour

01/27/2020 · By Rosa Alvares
Designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada’s exhibition
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada’s colour explosion. © Courtesy of the brand

If there’s one designer capable of building the Spain brand, it’s Agatha Ruiz de la Prada. Inventive, surprising, fun... and extremely hard-working, only she can agathise the world. She’ll prove it again soon at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid, where she’ll be launching her new fashion collection.

In the middle of The Madrid Scene, a young Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (Madrid, 1960) burst into the fashion scene. Full of personality, humour and freedom, she has nothing to do with what other designers do. Her joyful and bright aesthetic became a declaration of intent since her first collection, presented at a fun show at the design centre LOCAL in Madrid, where she even became a model on occasion. “I’ll never forget that fashion show, it was so exciting!”, she confesses. Time has passed, and the designer has created collections and designs for such diverse fields as interior design, stationary or the perfume industry. She has also collaborated with artists like Eduardo Chillida, Christopher Makos or Karim Rashid, and worked on costume and set design for ballets and plays. Her suitcase is packed ready to fly to Paris, Milan, Florence, New York, Berlin, Barcelona, or anywhere in the world where she can share her philosophy, which can be summarised with three concepts: joy, comfort and sustainability. Even though she’s about to launch her new autumn/winter 20/21 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, she admits that she feels just as nervous as during that first show when she was only twenty years old.

Once, you said you’d like to “agathise the world”, to fill it with joy, with colour. And you’ve done it. What’s behind this undeniable success?

I believe that being involved in your work and spending a lot of time on it is what’s important. In my case, the more I work, the more fun I have.

You’ve always been very consistent with your career and your worldview.

Yes, I’ve been obsessed with environmental issues for a long time, for example. Now that it’s become more widespread, I’m twice as glad. Another cause that I support is #MeToo, but right now I think that climate change is a more urgent issue. I’d love to see a substantial movement for the planet.

Is fashion much more than aesthetic?

I’ve been saying this for a long time, but now that’s what fashion is. I believe this full-heartedly and, thankfully, now it’s becoming a generalised belief. Another thing is that people don’t really know how to put this into practice. We want more environmentally sustainable fashion, but we don’t think about how to achieve this because, in general, we’re not sure. But we’re starting to see people taking big steps. It makes me really happy to see that people have finally cottoned onto something that I’ve been saying all along. Within the company, we’re taking steps regarding materials, but they’re still few and far between. We all want to do this, but it’s not clear how it can materialise in fabrics, for example.

Within the world of design, should a designer stand their ground even when faced with opposition and criticism?

It’s what I’ve always done, it’s part of who I am. Sometimes it’s easier, others harder, but it’s important to believe in yourself, to stand for what you believe in.

Are there black and white days for Agatha Ruiz de la Prada?

Generally, my days are full of colour, but some days are black and white. Now I’m going through one of those phases, it usually happens at the beginning of the year; a period where I become a blank slate, I lose all sense and don’t know which direction to take. I find these kinds of days hard, because I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull my socks up. But then I get over it and I relish working and have a great time doing it. But I feel out of sorts at the beginning of the year and during the summer.

“Women want to work, have children, friends and lovers, and go to exhibitions, and you can’t do all of that in uncomfortable heels”

It seems that no matter how many years of experience one has, one never stops questioning themselves. What’s your biggest challenge now?

Of course! Right now, one of my goals is to make my kids Tristán and Cósima love the company as much as I do. Working with them is a dream come true because it brings me joy to see them continuing with the project. There are days when they’re not sure and they say: “Oh, it’s my mother’s project”. If they’d had wanted to be doctors, for example, I would have been happy. But if you haven’t got a clear personal project, I think it’s great to continue with the family business. They’re both excellent and have revelled in becoming aware of the environment: in fact, they take this topic even more seriously than I do. Since they were little, I’ve always insisted on the need to take care of the planet, and they realised this.

Your pieces also help to empower women: some designs might be extreme, but most of them are easy to wear.

Although some pieces are out there, I've always believed that fashion’s big revolution, up until now, has been for clothing to be comfortable. Women want to lead and rightly so, but if you have to do a million things, you need to feel comfortable. We want to work, have children, friends and lovers, and go to exhibitions, and you can’t do all of that in uncomfortable heels. One of the richest women in the world, Melinda Gates, wears trainers, of course they’re expensive, but they’re sneakers, nonetheless.

According to your previous collection, spring/summer 20 fashion will be comfortable, fun, bright, based on sports garments... What are you going to show in your MBFWM show for autumn winter 20/21?

I can’t tell you, because I want it to be a surprise... But I don’t think that fashion shows have anything to do with the new season anymore. When I was young, I remember that, when the season changed, I changed my entire wardrobe, I needed to go out and buy new things; that doesn’t happen anymore. Now I prefer buying less things, I want them to be better quality and I add different touches to adapt them and give them a new look. Also, it’s a fabulous way of recycling, because there are so many people that don’t use what they have, you have to play with your imagination, you either give it away, make it narrower, add a frill, or sell it. And then there’s that outfit that you’ve worn a thousand times, that might not be the prettiest, but it’s definitely the most successful. Because clothes are like friends, the more you hang around with them, the more you like them.

“Because clothes are like friends, the more you hang around with them, the more you like them”

It’s been almost forty years since that first fashion show during The Madrid Scene. Are you still nervous before each runway?

Of course, and I love it! In 2018, I did 74 shows around the world, and I didn’t even count them last year. I admit it’s crazy. Imagine how many Iberia flights I’ve taken! If I think about it, there have been times that I’ve spent more time at the airport than at my own studio (laughs).