the ultimate list of prada trivia

As legendary designer Miuccia Prada marks her 30th year at the helm of her family business and shows her fall/winter 15 collection in Milan, we dug up 30 things you might not know about the woman and the brand.

by Emily Manning
|
26 February 2015, 6:35pm

muccia prada by francesco vezzoli

In 1985, Miuccia Prada introduced a basic black backpack crafted from the same industrial nylon used by the Italian army that would launch fashion dreams around the world. Thirty years later, her transformation of Prada from a dusty family-owned leather goods business into a multi-billion dollar ready-to-wear empire is the stuff of legend. As Ms. Miu Miu shows her fall/winter 15 collection today in Milan, we've rounded up 30 Prada facts you might not have know to celebrate 30 years of Prada revolutionizing the fashion industry. 

1) Miuccia is defying her grandfather's wishes: Established in 1913 by Mario Prada, the house began as a luxury leather goods firm. Her grandfather believed that women should have no role in the family business. Ironic, considering that the firm passed to Miuccia's mother Luisa before she reluctantly assumed control in 78.

2) Prada is the ultimate late bloomer: Although today's fashion industry is obsessed with finding the freshest young talent, both the brand and the woman were late bloomers, so to speak. Although the brand was established in 1913, it didn't produce any clothing until 1988, when a then 39-year-old Miuccia designed Prada's first ever ready-to-wear collection.

3) Technically, it's "Dr. Prada": Miuccia obtained a Ph.D. in political science from Milan University, at one point intending to launch a political career.

4) She wore Yves Saint Laurent to socialist protests: Miuccia used to be card carrying member of the Italian Communist Party, but that didn't mean she was ready to take style tips from Mao Zedong: she often wore Yves St Laurent to protests.

5) She almost became a professional mime: After obtaining her degree, Miuccia studied for five years at the Piccolo Teatro training to become a professional mime.

6) Her husband is also her business partner: Prada met Patrizio Bertelli, then an enterprising leather goods manufacturer, at a trade fair in Milan in 77. Since assuming control of the family business the following year, the pair have transformed Prada from a leather goods firm to a multi-billion dollar empire.

7) But her wedding dress wasn't that ritzy: According to The New Yorker, "Her bridal outfit was an 'ugly chic' cotton day dress in army gray that she wore with a man's camel overcoat."

8) Oscar winners wear Prada: Lupita Nyong'o, Steve McQueen, Alfonso Cuaron, and Catherine Martin all wore Prada to accept their top prize at last year's Oscars, making Prada the ceremony's luckiest label.

9) The brand takes organizational cues from Disneyland: When Prada opened its Madison Avenue store back in 93, the couple took their two children to the Grand Canyon and Disneyland. "It was mind-blowing to see how well everything was organized," Bertelli told the Wall Street Journal, "from the lines to the pancakes with Mickey Mouse."

10) So no wonder it's one of the biggest real-estate players in the luxury game: Tallying up Prada's stores is a bit of a daunting task. Despite a dip in profits during the first half of 2014, the couple still managed to crank out 65 stores last year alone, putting the company on track to have at least 600 locations by the end of this year.

11) She doesn't mind fakers...: Miuccia is one of the most innovative designers who has ever lived, and consequently, one of the most copied. But no sweat off her wallpaper skirt: "The job is to do something interesting with ideas," Miuccia told T Magazine, "and if it is copied I couldn't care less."

12) ...or when models fall over: Prada's spring/summer 09 sky-high shoes proved a bit too difficult for some models. Despite one full-fledged fall and a fair bit of nervous wobbling, Prada still found the show a success--in fact, as W reported, she was kind of into it: "'I liked it,' she said, smiling, careless of her teen models' obvious anxiety. 'It made the show more interesting.'"

13) Prada is not merely a fashion brand, it's also an art foundation...: Since its opening in 95, the Prada Foundation has helped some of the most compelling contemporary artists including Steve McQueen, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Carsten Höller undertake projects they never dreamed possible.

14) A literary project...: Prada's also a great read. Once a year, Prada Journal calls upon writers from across the globe to respond to a poetic prompt, then publishes the top three winners' works.

15) And an art exhibit: Miuccia personally selecting the clothing, shoes and accessories from her fall/winter 2005 collection to display in the windows of Elmgreen and Dragset's land art installation Prada Marfa before the space was irreparably vandalized last year.

Photography Marshall Astor of Prada, Marfa by Elmgreen and Dragset

16) Prada collaborated on the costuming for Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby: Working with costume designer Catherine Martin, Miuccia helped create 40 looks for Baz's blockbuster.

17) And also provided luggage for Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel: A throwback to the brand's early days manufacturing steamer trunks and handbags to the British aristocracy, Prada created custom luggage for Wes Anderson's most recent film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

18) She's got a three-story slide in her office: Some people take the stairs, Prada takes a slide. Designed by German artist Carsten Höller, the stainless-steel chute pokes out from the middle of her minimalist third floor office, spiralling into the courtyard below.

19) Prada once had its own cell phone: Amidst the designer-cell phone craze of the mid-aughts (if anyone still has their Rag & Bone T Mobile Sidekick, we salute you), Prada produced a series of collaborative mobiles with LG: the LG Prada (KE850), LG Prada II (KF900) and LG Prada 3.0.

20) After years of flirting with the idea, Prada finally went public: Although it had been teasing investors for years, the company finally got the green light for its listing on the on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on June 24, 2011, following its record-breaking year in sales, The Cut reported.

21) Prada doesn't give into peer pressure: Giorgio Armani has repeatedly put Prada on blast for showing Miu Miu in Paris instead of Milan. Despite this heat, the designer has stuck by her guns, explaining that she needs the extra days between Milan and Paris to pull each collection together.

22) It's got a thing for actors: Before casting some of today's brightest young actors for its spring/summer 15 campaign, Prada had long been tapping the silver screen. Muiccia convinced Adrien Brody and Gary Oldman to skip the Golden Globes to walk in her autumn/winter 13 show. And who could a young Joaquin Phoenix as the face of Prada's 97 menswear campaign?

23) Miuccia Prada, come on down!: "The Italian luxury brand made its game show debut as contestants tried to guess the value of four pairs of Prada shoes," The Cut reported of Prada's Price is Right moment in the sun back in 2013.

24) She's enjoyed paninis with Donatella: Ahead of her 2012 Atelier runway show, Donatella Versace sat down with the Telegraph to talk eating paninis with her unexpected BFF, Miuccia Prada: "I made a joke and she started to laugh and she said let's go and get some paninis because we're starving…and off we went. We just talk, talk, talk. She's so inspiring. We make fun of each other and teach each other."

25) Once a Prada girl, always a Prada girl: Although Prada's had some shocking casting choices, the brand has a few favorite faces. Sasha Pivovarova appeared in the brand's campaigns for six consecutive seasons (before a brief hiatus and return in 2013), and Miuccia re-enlisted Chloe Sevigny as the face of Miu Miu 16 years after her first turn in front of Juergen Teller's lens back in 96.

26) The "devil" really wore Prada: Although Anna Wintour (allegedly the inspiration for the film's wicked protagonist, Miranda Priestly) was not invited to the film's premiere, she did attend a press screening, fittingly, in head-to-toe Prada.

27) She's very generous with her skirts...: After gifting Tavi Gevinson a few pleated lip-print skirts, she's donating one of her own to Garage Magazine's online sale.

28)...and is to thank for Marc Jacobs' knee-length addiction: "I like wearing skirts, I like wearing kilts," the designer told CNN. "I started like a few years ago. I moved from kilts into pencil skirts. I wear now mostly Prada pencil skirts."

29) She thinks Twitter sucks: When Bertilli criticized her in the couple's Wall Street Journal profile for being slow on the social media uptake, Prada let the world know what she really thought of the networking site: "What if we found out years from now that Twitter is crap. Maybe years from now, we'll all have been mistaken," she retorted.

30) But above all, Prada is genius: "If it's fake, it doesn't work," Miuccia once told T of her myriad ventures: "It has to be true to yourself first and then it might be successful."

Credits


Text Emily Manning
Photography Harry Carr, Prada spring/summer 15
Artwork Francesco Vezzoli
[The Pleasure and Pain Issue, April 09, No. 298]

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