Design House: Prada (Italian, founded 1913)

Designer: Miuccia Prada (Italian, born 1949)

Date: ca. 1999

Culture: Italian

Medium: cotton, leather

Credit Line: Gift of Holly Brubach, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.561.1a–d


When Miuccia Bianchi Prada took over her family's quality leather goods establishment in 1978, she introduced innovative materials and designs such as her famous black nylon backpack. Her products exemplify a tradition of craftsmanship, yet stress futuristic manufacturing and marketing techniques. Miu Miu, Prada's secondary line, was established in 1992 to attract a younger clientele with items that exhibit bolder raw materials and more decorative finishing techniques.
Prada's design manifesto follows both the extraordinary vision of the early twentieth-century Futurists, with an adherence to continual movement and prized agility, and the innovative spontaneity of mid-century American artists like Claire McCardell, who by virtue of her insistence on fashionable comfort created simply shaped frocks with ingenious constructive twists. Like her contemporaries in Milan and Capri, Prada uses only the most luxurious and cutting-edge fabric treatments, from the conservative refinement of the wool tweed in this ensemble to finely processed synthetic taffetas and jerseys for evening wear.
The Prada house and its equally famed triangular metal nameplate have unarguably become dictators in the exclusive circles of the ultra-luxury goods market. Prada collections seem to supply clientele with high-end fabrics, constructions, and finishing details, yet communicate the concept of brand-name consumption and luxury purveyance as a culture-based phenomenon. The interior design of the New York Soho Prada store reflects both architect Rem Koolhaas's penchant for juxtaposing organic and staid forms and Miuccia Prada's eclectic interest in technology and its effects on the consuming fashion public. The Prada company seems to exemplify both the grossly inflated marketing ploys of modern fashion and the crafted beauty and pared-down elegance that Italian fashion has embodied for the last half-century.