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Latest Articles - Luxury

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Prada: the Devilishly Beautiful Face of the Italian Fashion

Sunday, 14 November 2010

PradaPrada. The name alone signifies style and luxury, designer handbags and fabulous shoes. Born nearly a century ago, The House of Prada is recognized worldwide for its simple and elegant creations. Miuccia Prada, who has been running the company for over thirty years now, is known as one of the most influential trendsetters in the fashion world. Her opinion is unquestionable, her style is impeccable, her mark - a symbol of high status and refined style that does not require any extra proof. However, Prada has come a long way to the Prada we know, but from its early it was a luxury available to a select few.

Family Values

The company was started in 1913 by Mario Prada and his brother Martino as Fratelli Prada shop, a purveyor of fine quality leather goods and imported items in Milan, Italy. For most of this century, affluent clients were offered the requirements of fine living, in an atmosphere immersed in the refined opulence of Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele boutique. The luxury items have included steamer trunks, Hartman luggage made in America, handbags from Austria, silver from London, crystal, tortoise, and shell accessories as well as now obsolete articles made from exquisite materials. Mario Prada traveled throughout Europe in order to familiarize himself with those materials and elements which would build his essential concepts of style and luxury. 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.

Mario's son harbored no interest in the business, so it was his daughter Luisia Prada who took the helm of Prada as his successor in 1958, and ran it for almost twenty years. In 1978, Mario's granddaughter, Miuccia Prada, took over the company. Miuccia was a former mime who had spent five years studying at Milan's Teatro Piccolo, and had a PhD in political science. Although her qualifications didn't seem appropriate, her sense of fashion was unmistakable. The label was still mainly a leather goods manufacturer at that point, and had been struggling financially for several years. Competition from other fashion houses like Gucci had taken its toll. Miuccia turned things around and steered the House of Prada towards the world of haute couture. About the same time as she took the helm of the Prada label, Miuccia married Patrizio Bertelli. Bertelli took on the role of business manager, allowing Miuccia to focus on designing and perfecting the new Prada look.

Accessible Luxury

Miuccia had been making black waterproof backpacks since 1977, out of a nylon fabric called Pocone. She unveiled the classic Prada handbag - simple, sleek, 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. In the 1980's, other labels were creating designs that played on sexuality. Frilly, lacy, brightly colored garments that were low cut on top and short on the bottom were popular. Prada hit the runway in 1989 with its pret-a-porter collection, with elegant, simple pieces featuring clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and basic colors. The fashion world took notice, and Prada's popularity skyrocketed.

The Prada Look

By the 1990's, Prada was a leading force in fashion. The garments and accessories were smart, sophisticated, and extremely high quality. Luxurious fabrics and simple styles, 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.

In 1992, Miuccia presented the more affordable Miu Miu line, which targeted a younger consumer. More flowing shapes and earthy colors and prints set this collection apart, although the simple designs and classic appearance continued the quality of the Prada label. Soon after, the Prada Sport label was created, followed by a line of men's wear and a lingerie collection. The following year, in 1993, Prada received the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for accessories. 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, and experimented with new and unique fabric blends. Even with all of this experimentation however, the caliber of the finished product has never wavered.

Chic and Shock

Any Prada collection is an intellectual chic without a hint of pretentiousness, however, Miuccia, who lives by her own laws and has a very peculiar vision of fashion, sometimes shocks fashioniastas into admiration. Prada is not limited to clothes and luxury items: in May 2007, Prada joined forces with cell phone maker LG Electronics to produce the LG Prada KE850 phone.

In 2009, KF900, the second generation of the phone, was launched in Europe. The phone also worked with the new Prada Link watch, which users can use to view text messages via a Bluetooth connection to their phone.

Prada, a fashion conglomerate in the 2000s, is still an exciting fashion label best known for its elegant accessories and breath-of-fresh-air Miu Miu apparel line.

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