Prada is an Italian Fashion House
established in Milan, Italy in 1913 by Mario Prada and his
brother. The company became a purveyor of quality leather
goods. In 1978, Mario's granddaughter Miuccia Prada, took over
the helm of the company. With her distinctive style in
clothing, footwear and accessories, Miuccia Prada developed an
innovative line of both clothing and accessories. The use of
microfiber in leather goods and clothing can be attributed to
Since the mid-1990s, there have
been few status symbols as potent as the Prada-embossed silver
triangle. The power of the Prada badge is such that it
transforms even an ordinary black nylon knapsack into a
must-have accessory. But it has not always been that way.
Before the arrival of Miuccia Prada, and, especially before
Uma Thurman sauntered down the red-carpeted Academy Awards in
that spectacular lavender chiffon dress, Prada was just a
family-run leather goods business stuck in the fashion
backwaters of Milan. The combination of smart management,
clever designs, and media might turned Prada into, well,
beach-front property sitting atop a gold mine.
Miuccia Prada's grandfather
opened a boutique selling high quality leather goods and
accessories in 1913 in Milan. Business was consistent but by
the '70s, high-powered competitors like Gucci and Hermès had
forced Prada into near-bankruptcy. In 1978, Miuccia Prada and
her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, reluctantly took control of
the floundering business. Patrizio took charge of management
while Miuccia, who had eschewed the family business to take a
Ph.D. degree in political science, designed collections. Now,
over two decades later, they head a
Prada did not venture into ready-to-wear until 1989. Miuccia
Prada's first collection was a seemingly impossible
contradiction: a minimalist reincarnation of the 1970s. We
recognized the bell-bottoms and the peasant blouses, but they
were stripped of hippy frou-frou and rendered in neutral
Since then, Miuccia Prada has guided the company's
ready-to-wear line into inventive territory. There was the
Mondrian-inspired collection of white dresses decorated with
thin red strips ending in dots like long, skinny exclamation
marks. Critics praised her spring-summer '98 show for its
embroidered latex, horizontal beading and flowers. Wavy,
uncertain hems gave the collection a homespun feel while
computer-generated prints kept it future-savvy.
Prada has also made a name for
itself in fabric innovation. Miuccia Prada has experimented
with translucent latexes and papery polyamides, mixed plastics
and satins, and incorporated strips of film and mirror
fragments into her clothing.
The success of the flagship Prada line led the company to
start the youth-targeted 'Miu Miu' line in 1992. There are
other offshoots like 'Granello' and 'Prada Sport', and a
lingerie line that was added in 1997, but Prada has developed
surprisingly few licenses. We have as yet to see the Prada
perfumed candles or what is certain to be cutting-edge Prada
Prada, SpA is an Italian fashion company (also known as a
"label" or "house") with retail outlets worldwide.
The company, originally known in Italian as Fratelli Prada
("Prada Brothers"), was founded in 1913 by Mario Prada. In
1978, Mario's granddaughter Miuccia Prada inherited what was
still a leather goods business from her mother, and led the
company's expansion into haute couture.
Miuccia first gained her reputation for creative use of
materials and simple, modern lines with her 1985 line of sleek
black handbags made from parachute nylon. These novel,
high-priced bags quickly became widely sought-after, and
spawned a global industry of counterfeit Prada goods.
Prada's first prêt-à-porter, or "ready-to-wear" collection was
designed by Miuccia Prada in the autumn/winter season of 1989.
The collection's plain, modern lines were a stark contrast to
other labels' flamboyant, sexual designs, and fueled a sharp
rise in Prada's popularity.
In addition to the original Prada line, the company introduced
the Miu Miu collection, a lower-priced line aimed at a younger
audience, in 1992. The Miu Miu line, which shares Miuccia
Prada's nickname, emphasizes earthy colors and a less haute
couture look, evoking an overall more bohemian style. In its
advertising campaigns, waif-like models in "home photo" poses
further the look. Miu Miu clothing is often simple, and evokes
a continual image of high-end vintage items. It was followed
by the Prada Sport collection.
Prada rose to fashion primacy in the early 1990s on a look
epitomized by thick, square glasses and garish colors known as
"Prada Ugly." Prada takes a decidedly -- and consciously --
intellectual approach to fashion. The look of the early 2000's
has been described as that of a "chic neo-fascist army" by the
New York Times. Other critics have described Prada's look by
comparing it to Gucci's: While the Gucci girl is swigging
shots of tequila in the back of a nightclub wearing a
miniskirt and halter top, the Prada girl is reading Proust in
Prada won a Council of Fashion Designers of America
International Award for accessories in 1993.
Although Prada remains the pinnacle of contemporary fashion
following Tom Ford's retirement -- in 2004 Vogue
Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour is said to have told Miuccia
Prada that she was "the only reason anyone comes to Milan" for
runway shows -- it continues to derive the overwhelming bulk
of its revenues from its original leather goods business, the
sale of shoes and handbags.
Following lead in other companies in a popular trend of large
labels to absorb as many other fashion houses as possible,
Prada took on large debts to take on the financially
floundering Rome-based house of Fendi in the early 1990s.
Prada shared shares in Fendi with the Louis Vuitton Moet
Hennesy (LVMH) company. Prada was unable to turn
around/support the money-losing Fendi label, and sold its
Fendi shares to LVMH. Prada is still to recover from this
debt. The only brand to avoid the pitfalls of forming a large
luxury label company is that of Giorgio Armani.
Other labels within the Prada Group corporate umbrella include
Helmut Lang and Jil Sander.