Monday, May 12, 2008

P - is for PRADA

One of the most well known names in high end fashion, Miuccia Prada is known for taking a small-time family business and building a formidable fashion empire. Maria Bianchi Prada (catwalk name: Miuccia Prada) was born May 10, 1949. Her parents were Luigi Bianchi and Luisia Prada, although she was eventually adopted by her maternal aunt. Her grandfather was Mario Prada, noted for founding the first retail line bearing the name Prada - it dealt in leather goods and was known as Fratelli Prada.

Pursuing her education in political science, Prada secured a PhD in a field far removed from the glitz and glamor of the fashion world. Making her an even more unlikely choice for the business, she also attended Teatro Piccolo for five years, where she studied and performed mime. Eyebrows were also raised when she became publicly known as a member of the Communist Party. In addition to her political views, Prada was an outspoken proponent of women’s rights in Milan throughout the 70s.

Miuccia’s future in fashion, however, began in 1978 when she inherited the company, Prada, from her mother. With her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, Prada expanded the company’s output from its previous luxury goods to high end clothing. Prada credits Bertelli with much of her drive to continue and push towards international recognition. 1985 marked her first important benchmark when she scored her largest professional success to date. She released what would ultimately become the signature Prada handbag. A classic, black nylon bag - it was simultaneously delicate but sturdy. An instant hit, it was quickly seen hanging on the arms of supermodels and the international fashion elite such as Marie Helvin and Jerry Hall.

While the line was becoming a must have, the prices were prohibiting all but the rich and famous from owning them. Replicas began flooding the market, which only served to make the authentic products of the Prada line all the more desirable. 1989 brought the first ready-to-wear collection to the runway. Composed of dark tones, classic cuts, and simple designs, the line stood in stark contrast to the bright, overtly sensual lines of its competitors. Prada was instantaneously raised to the upper echelons of high fashion.

The success continued to go higher and higher, and 1992 saw the release of Miu Miu, a slightly cheaper bridge line. With lowered prices and looks that were less austere. All the hard work culminated in 1993 when Prada was honored with a Council of Fashion Designers of America International Award. Prada is currently revered for her heavy financial support of various artistic endeavors.
(Spring-Summer 2008 - Prada collection)

A few years ago, I think in 2006, there was a rumor about a collaboration between Prada and H&M. I really don’t understand why people thought it could become a reality! We are talking about Miuccia, the billion dollar Fashion Empire owner! Here’s what she had to say about the so called collaboration: They’ve asked me. I always said no, not because I don’t like the idea, I just don’t like the idea of doing bad copies of what I’m doing. And I don’t have the time, and maybe even the ability, to do a collection with them. If you want to do a collection that costs less, you have to do it with different materials and different ideas.

I agree with her. Great brands should stay that way. H&M, Mango, Zara should be more focused on young designers and give them a change to show what they are made of!

Resort collection, 2008:

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