When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?
My dad was a contemporary art collector, so I wanted to be a painter when I was little. But when I was 15, I decided being a fashion designer was easier. You can be a very good fashion designer, but after Pablo Picasso, it's very hard to be a great painter. Art has been an important influence on my work. For me, one of the most interesting artistic schools is American Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s and then Pop Art in the '60s. Mark Rothko has always been one of my favorite artists. Also Andy Warhol; I met him when he came to Spain.
What was your first fashion collection like?
My first collection was launched in 1981, during la movida—it was after Franco died and we had a period of freedom. There was a lot of cultural growth, when people like the film director Pedro Almodóvar thrived. That first collection was very colorful, which is what I'm still doing now.
How did you expand your business?
In the beginning, I really wanted to work for others; I never wanted to work for myself. That is why I have done projects for so many different companies—60 or 70, including Swatch and Motorola, and I just did a car for Citroën. But because I have my own particular style, I needed to have my own business. So I have shops everywhere—Milan, Paris, Barcelona, and I just opened one in New York (135 Wooster St.; 212-598-4078 or agatharuizdelaprada.com)—but they are not important to me. They are just a way to give someone a sense of my brand image.