Founder: Mario Prada, 1913
Mario Prada originally launched the companyin 1913. Selling their products through two boutiques in Milan, the leather goods shop sold imported English steamer trunks, handbags and other leather goods. The brand developed a prestigious reputation becoming a favourite destination for international aristocrat and high-class customers. In 1919, to recognize the businesses prestige, it was appointed as official supplier to the Italian Royal House. The coat of arms and knotted rope symbol of the House of Savoy became a primary part of Prada’s trademark logo.
Miuccia Prada started working for the company in 1970 designing accessories, after earning a degree in Political Science from Milan University. While taking over the business Miuccia met Patrizio Bertelli, an entrepreneur active in the production of high-end leather goods. Together they formed a partnership laying the foundations for the company’s future international development and success. With Bertelli assuming the role of business manager, Miuccia could now focus fully on designing.
In 1979 Miuccia released her first designs of backpacks and totes made out of a material her grandfather had used for covering steamer trunks. The same year Miuccia expanded Prada’s product categories producing its first women’s footwear collection.
In 1983 the company opened a second boutique in Via della Spiga, Milan. The following year the business expanded to Florence, Paris, Madrid and New York. In 1984 the company released the classic Prada handbag, still on sale. Simple, sleek and made out of black nylon the bag was an instant success.
Prada launched a women’s ready-to-wear collection in 1988 with its debut at Milan’s fashion week. The simple and luxurious designs featured clean lines and basic colours. Most industry players did not understand Miuccia’s first show. However, she found recognition in New York.
The initial collection launched Prada’s outstanding success of the nineties when the company became one of the most influential fashion houses producing luxurious, simple, yet provocative styles.
In 1993 Miuccia Prada launched Miu Miu, her vision of an alternative style – a brand with a strong personality, provocative and sophisticated as well as free-spirited and avant-garde. That year Prada was awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for accessories.
Miuccia and Patrizo’s love and interest of contemporary art prompted them to open the Fondazione Prada in 1993, a venue presenting exhibitions in close co-operation with Italian and International artists.
In 1993 Prada Uomo was launched. In the same year the CFDA gave Prada recognition, again awarding Prada with the Designer of the Year award. 1995 also marked the beginning of the company using celebrities as the Miu Miu brand’s testimonials. Following Drew Barrymore, the brand has since seen a successful cast including Kim Basinger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Vanessa Paradis, Kirsten Dunst, Chloe Sevigny and Hailee Steinfeld.
In 1996 Prada continued to expand opening a store in Manhattan, New York, their largest so far. The mid nineties also saw the launch of a Men’s ready-to-wear line.
In 1999 the leisure line was born.
In 2000 Prada launched an eyewear range. This marked the start of the company furthering their portfolio with fragrances in 2003 and mobile phones in 2007.
The company started an ongoing travelling exhibition “Waist Down” in collaboration with AMO and architect Rem Koolhaas in 2004. The project displays the most original and meaningful skirts created by Prada from 1988 until today. So far the exhibition has been hosted in Tokyo in 2004, Shanghai in 2005, New York and Los Angeles in 2006 and Seoul in 2009.
The exhibition followed a further collaboration between Prada, AMO and Koolhaas with Prada Transformer in Seoul. A cutting-edge foray into the world of art, the Prada Transformer was the shape of a tetrahedron structure and housed a range of art, cinema and fashion events. Opening for six months, the Prada Transformer was the company’s key communication platform in 2009.
Following its launch in 1993, the Fondazione Prada explored architecture, design, philosophy and science. In 2011 the Fondazione Prada opened a new exhibit space at Ca’ Corner della Regina, a prestigious 18th century palazzo in Venice.
With the company’s continuous evolvement, Prada is now known for not just its interests in fashion, but also art, architecture, cinema, culture and sport.
Miuccia Prada has helped develop Prada to become one of the world most influential and significant fashion houses. Creating a recognisable and sophisticated aesthetic, Miuccia Prada takes a narrative approach to designing blending her work with ideas taken from her everyday experiences. Miuccia Prada understands the value of quality and lays great importance on the historic artisan mastery which is integral with the company. Together Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli have created a brand that, not only anticipates, but drives fashion.