Founded by Mario Prada in 1913

Prada Designer Biography

Credits & copyrights: Courtesy of Prad

Founded in 1913 by Mario Prada, the company initially operated two boutiques in Milan, specializing in the sale of imported English steamer trunks, handbags, and leather goods. Quickly gaining prestige, Prada became a favorite among international aristocrats.

In 1919, Prada earned recognition as the official supplier to the Italian Royal House, adopting the House of Savoy’s coat of arms and knotted rope symbol into its trademark logo.

In 1970, Miuccia Prada, armed with a degree in Political Science, joined the company. She focused on accessory design, forming a pivotal partnership with entrepreneur Patrizio Bertelli, who managed the business side, enabling Miuccia to fully dedicate herself to design.

Miuccia’s creative journey began with backpack and tote designs in 1979, using materials reminiscent of those used for steamer trunks. In the same year, Prada ventured into women’s footwear.

The ’80s marked the opening of a second Milan boutique in 1983, followed by expansion into Florence, Paris, Madrid, and New York in the subsequent year. Prada’s iconic handbag, known for its clean lines and black nylon, made its debut in 1984 and remains a timeless piece.

Prada’s debut in women’s ready-to-wear fashion in 1988 was initially met with puzzlement but eventually gained recognition, especially in New York, for its simple, luxurious designs featuring clean lines and basic colors.

The ’90s were a defining period for Prada, solidifying its position as one of the most influential fashion houses, known for producing luxurious, simple, and provocative styles. In 1993, Miuccia launched Miu Miu, a brand with a strong and avant-garde personality. Prada received the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) award for accessories that same year.

Miuccia and Patrizio’s interest in contemporary art led to the establishment of the Fondazione Prada in 1993, hosting exhibitions in collaboration with Italian and international artists.

Prada Uomo debuted in 1993, and the brand continued to receive recognition, earning the CFDA Designer of the Year award in the same year. Notable celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Kim Basinger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Vanessa Paradis, Kirsten Dunst, Chloe Sevigny, and Hailee Steinfeld became testimonials for the Miu Miu brand starting in 1995.

Further expansion occurred in 1996 with the opening of Prada’s largest store in Manhattan, New York. This period also witnessed the launch of a men’s ready-to-wear line.

Prada introduced a leisure line in 1999, followed by the launch of eyewear in 2000. Fragrances joined the brand’s offerings in 2003, and even the mobile phone market was explored in 2007.

The ongoing traveling exhibition, “Waist Down,” in collaboration with AMO and architect Rem Koolhaas, started in 2004, showcasing innovative skirts created by Prada since 1988 and hosted in various cities worldwide.

In 2009, Prada worked with AMO and Koolhaas again, creating the Prada Transformer in Seoul, a tetrahedron-shaped structure hosting art, cinema, and fashion events for six months.

The “Fondazione Prada,” founded in 1993, explores architecture, design, philosophy, and science. In 2011, it opened a new exhibition space at Ca’ Corner della Regina, a prestigious 18th-century palace in Venice.

Today, Prada is not just a fashion powerhouse but also a force in art, architecture, cinema, culture, and sports.

Miuccia Prada’s visionary approach has molded Prada into one of the world’s most influential fashion houses. Her sophisticated and recognizable aesthetic blends elements from her daily life into her designs. Miuccia Prada places immense value on quality and historic artisan craftsmanship, integral to the brand. Alongside Patrizio Bertelli, they’ve created a brand that not only anticipates but also drives fashion.

In 2011, Prada faced scrutiny when the Hong Kong Stock Exchange approved its IPO amid the Prada Gender Discrimination Case, which Prada eventually won. Despite a less-than-expected IPO in June 2011, Prada continued to evolve. Sales rebounded in March 2018, after a period of decline, leading to a rise in stock value.

In 2019, Prada announced its commitment to eliminate fur from its collections, emphasizing innovative materials and ethical products.

February 2020 marked a significant change as designer Raf Simons was named co-creative director alongside Miuccia Prada.

In August 2020, Prada decided to cease using kangaroo leather in its products. The Resort 21 campaign received promotion from Vanity Teen magazine.

In January 2023, Andrea Guerra was appointed as Prada’s CEO, with plans to potentially dual-list Prada stock on both the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and a European stock exchange.

Prada regularly hosts seasonal runway shows on the international fashion calendar, primarily in Milan. The brand has showcased collections in various locations, including a Resort 2019 show in New York City. Prominent models and actors have graced Prada’s shows and campaigns, with runway music designed by Frédéric Sanchez.

Prada Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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