The House of Prada: Fashion Designer

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Prada, S.p.A. is a well-known Italian fashion company with retail outlets worldwide. The company, originally known in Italy as "Prada Brothers," was founded in 1913 by Mario Prada in Milan.

Mario Prada designed and sold handbags, shoes, trunks, and suitcases through two boutiques in Milan, and had clients across Europe and the United States. When the signature Prada suitcases, made from heavy, cumbersome walrus skin, proved to be ill-suited for air travel, Prada concentrated on designing exquisite leather accessories and waterproof handbags.

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 couture with an overall more bohemian style.

Miuccia unveiled the classic Prada handbag-made of simple sleek, and water-proof black nylon-in 1985 and became an overnight sensation. The bag was functional and sturdy, practical and fashionable. The high price tag that accompanied the handbags caused an onslaught of designer knock-offs, which only helped to make the genuine Prada articles more in demand.

Prada is known to delve away from convention. In the 1980s, when other labels were creating designs that played on sexuality, Prada hit the runway in 1989 with its prêt-a-porter collection with elegant and simple pieces featuring clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and basic colors.

By the 1990s, Prada was a leading force in fashion, with garments and accessories that were viewed as smart, sophisticate, and extremely high quality. Luxurious fabrics and simple style, mostly in blacks, browns, grays, greens, and creams, became the signature Prada look. The apparel was sexy and spoke of confidence without revealing too much skin. Accessories included skinny leather belts, elegant high-heeled shoes, and of course, the classic handbag.

Miuccia presented in 1992 the more affordable Miu Miu line, which is often simpler and evoking a continual image of high-end vintage items. It targeted a younger customer, with more flowing shapes and earthy colors and prints but still maintaining its simple designs and classic appearance. Soon after, the Prada Sports label was created, followed by a line of men’s wear and lingerie collection.

The Prada look has certainly evolved over the years, and Miuccia is credited with many innovations in fabric and design. She has added everything from mirror fragments to beaded latex to her garments. She also experimented with new and unique fabric blends. Even with all of this experimentation, the caliber of the finished product has never wavered.

It is currently considered as one of the most influential clothing designers in the fashion industry. Miuccia, meanwhile, was named on of the thirty most powerful women in Europe according to The Wall Street Journal.

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