You only have to watch one episode of “Sex In the City” to see the influence of this great fashion name on popular culture and especially on the world of designer apparel and accessories. The Prada SPR and Prada SPS range (the latter is for sports) of sunglasses are exceedingly well thought of and desired, and to see why we shall step all the way back to just before the First World War.
Mario Prada started selling leather handbags, shoes and trunks in Milan in 1913. He made a classic Prada suitcase out of some heavy walrus skin, but at the time plane travel could not facilitate heavy suitcases, so the company produced lighter bags and other items made of crystals, wood and tortoise shell. They also sold waterproof garments to the USA. By the 1970s however, the company had gone into almost irreversible decline. That is, it was, until Miuccia Prada took over the company.
Miuccia was born in 1950, had a doctorate in political science by her mid-20s and was a committed communist as she moved into her 30s. She started using backpack bags out of Pocone, a waterproof fabric, in 1970 and by the end of the decade she ran the company. Sales were down at the time, so she expanded into nylon backpacks and luxury tote bags.
It was the clean lines of her women’s footwear and prêt-a-porter clothing line, made with such high quality fabrics, that really gave her fame, as so many people wanted to wear her under-stated and elegant garments. As her fame grew, she began to be rewarded, getting an International Award for the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1993 and winning the “Designer of the Year” award in 1995.
Having been solely a line for women, the first menswear shop was opened in Los Angeles in the USA in 1998. This was added to the new Prada stores in Las Vegas and Manhattan, which continued Prada’s growth into a worldwide empire, having stores in almost every western country and providing almost every celebrity worth their salt with clothes.
Miuccia Prada uses a lot of crunchy polyester and other synthetic fabrics such as parachute nylon. Colours that she likes include browns, white, cream, black and Battleship green. The clothes and sunglasses are not so much fashionable as there isn’t really a defining accent apart from a group of useful and desirable things made very well. Someone once described Prada products as a mixture of ice-cool minimalism with deadpan eroticism.