Prada’s Powerhouse

With skinny belts, dropped waists and iconic handbags, Prada’s cool, chic and sophisticated vibe has caught the imagination of many a devoted fashion follower.

Founded in 1913 by the Prada brothers, Prada started life as a very different business, selling leather goods and imported English steamer trunks in Milan.

Prada's Powerhouse

The brand had great success, and in 1919 was confirmed as an official supplier to the Italian royal household, signified by the iconic knotted rope on its logo.

Prada's Powerhouse

Miuccia Prada takes the reins

But it was only once Mario Prada’s granddaughter, Miuccia, took over in 1978 that the direction of the company changed, and a fashion house was born. Patrizio Bertelli, an Italian entrepreneur, joined the ranks as an adviser, giving Miuccia time to impress her own creativity onto the company’s designs. Patrizio would later become Miuccia’s husband, creating an inimitable fashion power couple.

Prada's Powerhouse
Miuccia Prada
Prada's Powerhouse
Miuccia and husband, Prada’s Chief Executive Patrizio Bertelli IMAGE: REUTERS/Bobby Yip

A classic bag

Miuccia’s first range of backpacks and totes hit the market in 1979, made of tough military spec black nylon that her grandfather had used as coverings for steamer trunks. A nylon tote followed, and then a shoe line. In 1985, the ‘classic Prada handbag’ was released and was an instant sensation. Miuccia had, it seemed, hit the fashion nail on the head, with a practical design that also exuded an air of the luxury.

Prada's Powerhouse

Ready to wear arrives

1989 saw the first women’s ready to wear collection, and it was here that we saw the, now iconic, dropped waists and thin belts. With clean lines and bold, basic colours, its popularity soared, with customers loving the fact they didn’t feel ‘branded’ with Prada. Their label, unlike other fashion houses, was not plastered all over the goods, leaving customers to appreciate the luxury without the status.

Prada's Powerhouse

Miu Miu

Through the 90s the brand became one of the most influential fashion houses, launching a sister brand, Miu Miu, tailored to a younger luxury market. They also launched men’s ready to wear as well as opening boutiques around the world. Their effortless, chic, sometimes eccentric flair is always tempered by a class that keeps it grounded and ultimately luxurious.

Prada's Powerhouse
Drew Barrymore models for Miu Miu in 1995

Disaster on the catwalk

Prada’s Spring Summer 2009 collection garnered coverage as two models fell down during the catwalk show, with others stumbling and all of them unsteady on their stilettos. One model claimed to have had a panic attack in the problematic heels which were incredibly high. Miuccia, rather than blame the shoe and its design, explained that the little silk sock inside was slipping inside the shoe, preventing the girls from walking comfortably. She promised that the sock would be stitched into retail versions, although the design never hit the retail market.

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Prada’s range

Constantly looking to diversify, Prada now holds lines in glasses, perfumes and even mobile phones alongside their successful bags, shoes and ready to wear collections.

Prada's Powerhouse
Rihanna sports some Prada clogs IMAGE: GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Prada's Powerhouse
Keira Knightley wears a pretty blue Prada dress
Prada's Powerhouse
Scarlett Johansson wears Prada sunglasses for The Late Show with David Letterman IMAGE: MediaPunch Inc/REX USA
Prada's Powerhouse
Taylor Swift carries her Prada Saffiano Lux Tote


Entitled ‘Premonition’, the latest collection fuses bold colours with structured tailoring, comic style, floral and animal prints along with images of women.

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With a strong leadership and a growing empire, Prada’s cool sophistication shows no sign of letting up yet.