“If i succeeded in something, it would be making the ugly attracting” 1, sais Miuccia Prada. A cultured and intelligent woman who with her ideas at the time outside the box, subverted the fashion industry rules. She built up her success on the concept “brutto” -ugly chic- to transform it in trendy icons.
Hers is a story of success and personality: of how a girl coming from the milanese middle class, fascinated by the theatral culture of the Piccolo Teatro in Milan and from the revolutionary left side ideas, found herself conducing the “partisan” grandfather’s Mario Prada business and his brother Martino in the Vittorio Emanuele II gallery in Milan, known as the leather and colonial goods shop.
A story telling how Maria Bianchi, known as Miuccia Prada, went through the change, developping new business ideas, opening up to the husband’s help Patrizio Bertelli.
Miuccia‘s story has far away origins: starts in 1913, when her maternal grandfather Mario Prada and his brother Martino, open a shop in Vittorio Emanuele II gallery in Milan, Fratelli Prada S.r.l. “Not just a usual leather shop, but also colonial whims, chests and nécessaire of D’Annunzio- made of elephant, walrus, snake and alligator leather”, tells Michele Masneri on Foglio’s newspaper. 2
The wealthy Mario Prada is not an artisan of splendor but rather a pretty bizarre person, already a member of the navy (before becoming a partisan), whose best product is the steamship chest, one of the most eccentric, with silver and crystal inserts. A product immediately well appreciated.
Already became a reference point for the aristocracy and middle class’ purchases, thanks to the centralized position, after six years becomes official supplier of the Casa Reale dei Savoia (Royal House of Savoia), obtaining the right to take inspiration for his trademark from the araldic elements of the Savoia’s emblem, for example the crusade shield.
The rope woven in 4 points becomes an essential part of the trademark Prada that includes this name in the distinctive sign. The denominative part of the trademark prada uses a graphic stilization, remained almost unchanged over the years, from the “sharp” strokes of the letters, so it is unique and easily recognisable from the public.
Maria Prada had two daughters, Luisa and Nanda: “la Luisa” married Gino Bianchi and had three kids, Alberto, Marina and Maria. Maria Bianchi, the youngest, born the 10th of may 1948 is the one, who will become Miuccia Prada (Prada will come only in the 80s).
Aunt Nanda, who remained unmarried, took care of her three nephews who will then inherit formally the business.
No woman, according to the business founder, should have led the boutique, but after his death in 1958, was his daughter Luisa to take it over.
Meanwhile Miuccia, made her first steps in the world, despite being interested in something totally different. She sais: “I had so many dreams in my mind. I wanted to do something socially useful. I dreamed to play with Giorgio Streller. Even at the time I was really keen on fashion industry, but only thinking of working in it, made me sick… Stylist?!… something for women, … that type of women” 3
For Miuccia followed then the studies to the famous classical high school of Milan, Giovanni Berchet, which distinguished itself for the teaching quality; then, the militancy in the milanese Pci (Porta Romana’s section) and the social help to the U.D.I. circle (Women’s Italian Union).
An ex deputy of the milanese Pci sais: “Miuccia always came with these Yves San Laurent she bought with sales and on Monday when she was off work came to us to wash the pots to our little Unity festival organised at the Porta Romana gardens”. 4
She graduated in Political Sciences with thesis’ title: “The communist Italian party and school”. She studies for 5 years theatre and mime to the Piccolo Teatro di Milano and in 1978 (she was 30), unfortunately for her, replaced her mother (Luisa) for the company’s lead.
Her life is contrasted: from one side the social and political environment she frequents where she can’t publically say she’s fascinated of faschion industry; from the other side the calling from the family business which connects to her current tastes and leanings.
The year before, At the Mipel (Milan’s leather festival) she met Patrizio Bertelli, her boyfriend, future husband and mentor. Concerning what Michele Masneri mentioned in his article, Miuccia has the ability to notice that the smart Tuscan producer and business man, was “copying” her purses from years 5, at the beginning, grew between the two a deep hate, but also a starting point where they get to know each other deeply and, without noticing, became a relationship.
“Il Bertelli” (that’s how Miuccia called him in some interviews), was already active in the jeans belt production, sold with the trademark Sir Robert which he purchased the same year in 1967. His business spirit pushes him at the age of 31 to build up the business called “I Pellettieri d’Italia”. A company active in the leather industry.
Between them begins a commercial deal.
The union between Miuccia’s creativity and intuhition and Bertelli’s business strategy reveals successful: as a matter of fact he gets the licence to produce and sell exclusively leather items withe the trademark Prada. This deal stands until 2003, the year when the IPI S.p.A. (Italian leather goods dealers) merged with Prada S.p.A.
“The pat on the stylist’s shoulder has always worked well” as a matter of fact is the Tuscan business man who pushed Miuccia to overcome her limits.
In 1979 the range of products increases, adding side by side with the leather the first women’s footwear collection.
In 1983 Prada opens another shop in Milan, on the prestigious Spiga street the fashion industry’s triangle. One of the main european shopping destinations.
In 1985 as the creative director of the maison, Miuccia Prada, starts the climbing for the success designing what will become a timeless icon. The bag in high selection realised in nylon black pocono, resistant and waterproof. The purses and bags can be identified from the iconic logo: an upside down triangle in metal, inspired to the latch of the grandfather’s chests.
In 1988 the milanese stylist designs her first collection of prêt-à-porter for women, debutting during the “first fashion week”. She declares: “Doing a run away show was very easy: I made everything i liked but didn’t find. For ten years i only wore vintage clothes and waitress or military uniforms.” 6 A few people like her, her creations are not understood from the italian press because they were far beyond the time’s fashion industry and usually anticipated their time (a woman who doesn’t wear hoses with -10°C and wears wool socks with sandals).
In the same year her first stage in New York, is a great success: the United States “fall in love” with her style.
Only after becoming an icon in the United States and England, Miuccia Prada, brings again her collections on the milanese runaways; there were present the same italian journalists who therefore snubbed her, but now, they were left outside the door of Maffei street. A press scandal blows up, censure accusations are formulated.
In the 1990s, after making peace with the journalists, in a short time the trademark Prada becomes a true phenomenon of the fashion industry, emblem of the minimalistic splendor made up of unexpected stylistic choices: unusual pieces and models, colour combinations etc.
After some years in 1993, there is her debut in the Man, product line, with the first collection of clothing and footwear. In the same year, the creative inspiration of Miuccia Prada pushes her to make a new trademark, Miu Miu (affectionated name) for experimental and modern women clothing items, destined to a younger public.
To characterize the winning fashion industry couple (Prada-Bertelli), was the fact of being intuitive and pioneers, fascinated from comtemporary art and patronage.
In fact, with the business activity, the two spouses found the project Milan Prada Art later on rebaptised Prada Foundation, art space dedicated to the promotion of contemporary culture through exhibition’s and and events.
The stylist uses the art as an instrument, also politic,to think about the change of the routine: “The fashion industry is the instant language” 7 and humans communicate also through it.
In 1995 Miuccia Prada with Patrizio Bertelli (delegate administrator of Prada’s company) internationalise their products and spread the trademark Prada to new branches.
In 1997 Bertelli, expert sailor, finances the partecipation of the sailing ship Luna Rossa to the American’s Cup, to sponsorize the new sports product line marked Prada Sport (for example the white and red shoes); the influences of this product line reflect themselves on the others (Men and Women) and the Miu Miu trademark.
In the next years the group includes other fashion industry houses Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, Church’s, Car Shoe, Fendi e Azzedine Alaïa.
In 2000 advertises the glasses product line called Prada Eyewear. NIn 2003 signes an agreement, updated in 2012, with the italian glasses producer Luxottica.
After three attempts in Piazza Affari, faded away almost near the finish line, the 24th of June 2011, Patrizio Bertelli succeds in assessing Prada S.p.A. in Hong Kong, lassessed in Stock Exchange as the groupchief, Pradan S.p.A. attempts to find money for new investments destined to increase their presence into the global territory through the Prada monobrand shops.
In 2014 Prada S.p.A. acquires control of Angelo Marchesi S.r.l. owner of the historic bakery shop founded in 1824, marking the entrance in the food industry and, in 2015 opens the first bakery shop in Monte Napoleone street.
Nowadays the Prada Group is composed of at least 5 successful different brands: Prada, Miu Miu, Chruch’s, Marchesi e Car Shoe.
In the 29th of October 2019 Prada Holding, takes control of every family business with the trademark Prada: detects Fratelli Prada S.r.l. for 66 millions of euros.
Today the trademark Prada are for the most part assigned to Prada S.A. in Luxemburg (owned by Prada S.p.A.) and the remaining part assigned to Prada S.p.A. in Italy.
– Prada S.A. has protected trademarks concerning all their literal and graphic aspects in the following countries: United States (Federal trademarks) (48 marchi), United States (National Trademarks) (4 marchi), Canada (33 marchi), Mexico (91 marchi), Bermuda (2 marchi), Costa Rica (6 marchi), El Salvador (9 marchi), Guatemala (41 marchi), Nicaragua (55 marchi), Panama (51 marchi), Argentina (64 marchi), Bolivia (10 marchi), Brazil (133 marchi), Cile (18 marchi), Colombia (69 marchi), Ecuador (7 marchi), Guyana (9 marchi), Paraguay (65 marchi), Perù (111 marchi), Suriname (1 marchio), Uruguay (20 marchi), Venezuela (72 marchi), Bahamas (5 marchi), Giamaica (2 marchi), Dominican Republic (2 marchi), Saint Vincent e Grenadine (2 marchi), Trinidad e Tobago (2 marchi), Andorra (10 marchi), Benelux (37 marchi), Belarus (1 marchio), Cyprus (23 marchi), Denmark (10 marchi), Russian Federation (1 marchio), Finland (9 marchi), France (1 marchio), Germany (2 marchi), Gibraltar (4 marchi), Greece (9 marchi), Irland (10 marchi), Iceland (7 marchi), Italy (18 marchi), Kosovo (3 marchi), Malta (30 marchi), Norway (1 marchio), United Kingdom (17 marchi), Romania (1 marchio), Serbia (1 marchio), Spain (23 marchi), Sweden (9 marchi), Switzerland (1 marchio), Turkey (17 marchi), Trademarks UE (56 marchi), Saudi Arabia (14 marchi), Bahrein (9 marchi), West Bank (Judea and Samaria) (7 marchi), United Arabian Emirates (16 marchi), Gaza (1 marchio), Jordan (22 marchi), Iran (3 marchi), Israel (56 marchi), Kuwait (15 marchi), Lebanon (2 marchi), Oman (6 marchi), Qatar (22 marchi), Syria (1 marchio), Yemen (9 marchi), Ghana (4 marchi), Libya (8 marchi), Madagascar (2 marchi), Malawi (5 marchi), Morocco (1marchio), Mauritius (1 marchio), Nigeria (3 marchi), O.A.P.I. African Intellectual Property Organization (7 marchi), Seicelle (5 marchi), South Africa (9 marchi), Tanzania (3 marchi), Tunisia (17 marchi), Zimbabwe (5 marchi), Bangladesh (10 marchi), Brunei (2 marchi), Cambodia (4 marchi), China (61 marchi), South Corea (78 marchi), Filippine (22 marchi), Japan (47 marchi), Hong Kong (40 marchi), India (39 marchi), Indonesia (96 marchi), Macao (36 marchi), Malesia (52 marchi), Myanmar (1 marchio), Pakistan (7 marchi), Singapore (54 marchi), Sri Lanka (3 marchi), Taiwan (91 marchi), Thailand (68 marchi), Vietnam (1 marchio), Australia (15 marchi), New Zeland (38 marchi), All the international trademarks (IR) (61 marchi).
– Prada S.p.A.has protected trademarks concerning all their literal and graphic aspects in the following countries:United States (Federal trademarks) (7 marchi), Canada (3 marchi), Mexico (4 marchi), Argentina (1 marchio), Venezuela (6 marchi), Benelux (1 marchio), Italy (12 marchi), United Kingdom (2 marchi), Trademarks UE (6 marchi), South Arabi (1 marchio), Lebanon (1 marchio), Qatar (1 marchio), Hong Kong (1 marchio), Malesia (1 marchio), All the international trademarks (IR) (7 marchi).
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