Despite being immortalised in the pop culture history thanks to a certain film starring Meryl Streep, there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to dissecting the genius that is Prada. Most of which is down to the woman at the helm, the one and only Miuccia Prada.
Started by brothers Mario and Martino Prada in Milan in 1913, the Prada brand, known originally as Fratelli Prada, began life as a leather goods shop. Creating luxury trunks and handbags for well heeled Italians, Prada even became the official supplier of leather goods to the Italian Royal Household.
However, it wasn’t until Miuccia Prada, Mario’s granddaughter, joined the family business in the seventies when the brand became a player on the world fashion stage. An academic (she has a Phd in political science), a trained mime and a political activist (with the communist party and women’s rights movement), it’s no surprise Miuccia had big plans for her family’s fashion business.
She began her time at the company by creating Prada’s first footwear collection, and by 1978 she’d designed the brand’s first cult item, the now-famous nylon backpack. Arguably the original ‘it’ bag, this utilitarian item signalled a new era for the brand and bestowed them a new legion of younger fans.
Miuccia’s star continued to rise with the introduction of ready-to-wear in 1989, and the following launch of Miu Miu, a more affordable line inspired by her own personal wardrobe, in 1992. With her husband and Prada CEO, Patrizio Bertelli at her side, the duo grew the business into a conglomerate that now includes big name labels such as Fendi, Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, and Azzedine Alaïa.
From using high profile architects to ensure a superior in-store experience to diversifying across menswear, fragrance, watched, jewellery and more, shrewd business decisions have seen the brand grow from strength to strength. Subsequently Miuccia was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2005 and the 75th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2014. With 618 boutiques around the, over 12,000 staff and revenue of nearly 4 billion in 2016, the brand continues to flourish.
Effortless luxury has always been the brand’s USP and despite their competitors reliance on logo-heavy pieces, Prada has always stuck to its gun and made it all about the design, not the branding. Miuccia manages to reinvent the Prada aesthetic season after season, forever keeping the customer guessing and the excitement alive.