Miuccia Prada was born Maria Bianchi Prada on May 10, 1949, in Milan, Italy. She was the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, who started the Prada fashion line in 1913 by manufacturing well-crafted, high-end suitcases, handbags and steamer trunks for the Milanese elite.
Miuccia was an unlikely inheritor of her family’s business. A former member of the Italian Communist Party, she attended the University of Milan, where she made a name for herself as an ardent feminist and earned a Ph.D. in political science. Following her academic work, Prada planted herself at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro, where she trained as a mime for five years.
In 1978, Miuccia entered her family’s business and soon set to work on rebuilt a company that had grown sleepy and inactive. With the help of her future husband, Patrizio Bertelli, Muiccia began updating the company’s merchandise with designs she’d developed herself.She first dazzled the fashion world in 1985, when she unveiled a series of black nylon handbags and backpacks with understated labeling—a stark contrast to the logo heavy clothes that dominated the fashion world at the time. Four years later, Prada, who has no formal fashion training, introduced a line of ready-to-wear women’s clothes that she called “uniforms for the slightly disenfranchised.” (disenfranchised : voteless, voiceless) Some critics burned it, but consumers ate it up.
Miuccia’s Wayward Designs for Prada
In 1992, she introduced a new, more affordable label called Miu Miu. Three years later, the company unveiled a line of men’s clothing..
Much of what set Prada apart from the rest of the fashion world is Miuccia’s seeming disregard for the fashion industry. She has always blazed her own trail in trying new styles. Her experimentation once included a raincoat that was transparent until it became wet, at which point it turned opaque. While major-league designers cashed in on their singular, predictable vision, Miuccia Prada has made her creative quirky behaviour pay off. If the rest of the fashion world says “color,” she will present an all-black collection. In the process, she has been consistent for the most part only in her fearlessness. “When they tell me something won’t sell, that is when I want to make it,” she has often said, alluding to her choices in fabrics and silhouettes.
Her knowledge of fashion comes from her own closet and her personal style. Growing up in a wealthy Milanese family, Miuccia was wearing Courrèges and Yves Saint Laurent by the time she was a teenager. Her ability to marry the functional with the radical has inspired such influential trends as clothing made of techno fabric, 1950s housewife dresses cut from nylon and, of course, the nylon backpack.