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If you know, you know. Mrs Prada has not only revolutionised luxury, she has also earned the title of fashion’s GOAT. From the beginning, Miuccia’s journey has been a fusion of intellect and creativity. Armed with a PhD in political science, she has brought a unique perspective to the world of fashion. The marriage of intellect coupled with her own language of style, or call it “the way we dress”, is the hallmark of Prada’s design ethos, setting her apart from her contemporaries.

The Prada brand, founded in 1913 by her grandfather Mario, has undergone a metamorphosis under her guidance since the late 1970s. Her latest and most significant innovation was to bring Raf Simons on as her co-designer in 2020, creating a collaboration of two powerhouse designers that has brought a new energy to the brand.

Her earliest designs – many of which were on display at the revealing Pradasphere II exhibition, curated by Simons, staged in Shanghai from December ’til January –have set the tone for her career. Mrs Prada was determined to challenge conventional notions using what were considered unconventional materials and minimalist aesthetics. The Prada nylon backpack, introduced wayback in 1984, exemplified her ability to transform the everyday into a different kind of statement. In her hands it was infused with a sense of luxury. This approach established Mrs Prada as a trailblazer, with the brand transcending clothes and charting a wider cultural ethos.

In 1988, when Mrs Prada sent out her inaugural collection, it marked the genesis of everything that makes Prada unique: the simplicity of a white shirt, skirt and thick-soled shoes, or the way the models walked, with arms folded, cardigans draped over shoulders nonchalantly, holding vintage-style bags in a certain way. At the time, Prada’s show defied the prevailing fashion orthodoxy, setting the stage for a brand that has come to define something genuinely exciting each season. In many ways, this collection holds the manifesto.

Simons couldn’t get it out of his head as he worked his way through the vast Prada archive, held in Tuscany, editing it down from a wish list of 800 pieces to the final 200 that appeared in Pradasphere II. “The modernity of those simple ideas in the beginning is so relevant. It’s almost more relevant than eccentricity, I think,” he told us at its launch.

The Prada runway shows have always been immersive experiences, reflecting Miuccia’s deep understanding of the intersection between fashion, art and culture. Each collection tells a story, inviting the audience to engage with the narrative. This ability to innately shape cultural trends has turned Prada into a phenomenon.The admiration for her work over the past four decades has extended beyond her role as a designer. Prada campaigns have often touched upon pressing social issues, fostering a dialogue within the fashion industry and beyond. Miuccia’s commitment to sustainability has also marked her as a leader in the movement towards responsible fashion.

Her influence has permeated into art, architecture, philosophy and cinema. The Prada Foundation, established in 1993, stands as a compelling testament to her commitment to nurturing emerging talent across various creative disciplines and showcasing established legends. Its landmark exhibitions have included commissions by artists such as John Baldessari, Louise Bourgeois, Walter De Maria and Steve McQueen. A few of its amazing research exhibitions have included The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied and the experimental cinema platform Belligerent Eyes. The full list is impressive by international gallery and museum standards.

Talking recently at Pradasphere, Mrs Prada told us,“We can be creative [as designers] but I don’t think I am an artist at all. If I wanted to be an artist, I would compete with artists, not with other designers. I don’t want to be an artist, honestly, I much prefer what I’m doing. They have freedom, I have to sell…”

The Pradasphere II Exhibition

From her early admiration of and collaboration with artists such as Damien Hirst, from 1996 onwards, as seen in the extraordinary cabinet which has 30 chrome bags at Pradasphere, art has shaped so much of what Prada sells. This commitment to artistic influence inform seach collection with a narrative that transcends, engaging Prada in a wider conversation. Wes Anderson, Baz Luhrmann and his wife, production designer Catherine Martin, David O’Russell and Theaster Gatesare but a few of the directors and artists who have worked closely with Mrs Prada. She has worked with female illustrators too, creating unique designs for runway sets, bags and clothing memorably for the SS18 Comic Book collection.

In the vibrant and ever-evolving fashionverse, Mrs Prada has remained a force to be reckoned with, a woman whose design hand continues to influence. Her legacy is etched not simply in the distinctive “ugly chic”patina that she established so early on with the SS96 collection– it continues to be explored and refined, gaining strength each season, and is at the root of her collaboration with Simons. This singular focus is Mrs Prada’s unwavering dedication to redefining beauty on her terms.Her unconventional nature has proved to be a catalyst for success. The brand’s self-assured identity emerged swiftly, and in a remarkably short time span, rivalling heritage brands that had been around for more than a century. Prada’s distinct aesthetic became everything for those of us seeking innovation and a departure from the mundane.

The brand’s attention to detail is next level and extends beyond the runway to the meticulously designed replicas of each boutique that it builds in a huge San Remo warehouse. This fascinating detail underscores its commitment to creating interactive experiences, an embodiment of the belief that detailed, seamless luxury encompasses every aspect of the label.

The spirit of constant evolution is embodied in Mrs Prada’s own philosophy. “I’m always trying to think [about what’s] next,” she tells us. This forward-thinking approach has ensured that Prada remains a dynamic force in an ever-changing and image-hungry industry. At the core of that success is the profound relationship between Mrs Prada and her creative partner and husband, Patrizio Bertelli. Their partnership is built on a foundation of respect, mutual admiration and trust. This has been instrumental in steering Prada through the dynamic currents of market forces.

In the intricate tapestry of Mrs Prada’s journey, from the defining debut to the present, there is are sounding lesson in innovation and a relentless pursuit of the future. Four years after the arrival of Simons as co-creative director, the trajectory of Prada’s legacy has become assured. His partnership with Miuccia introduced a newness, a dynamic synergy, and began a subtle shift in the design room. The collaboration has marked a harmonious meeting of two era-defining powerhouses, each bringing a distinct aesthetic to the Prada mix.

Simons, renowned for his fearless, avant-garde approach and cult-like status within the world of menswear, has brought anew perspective into the narrative. The seamless integration of his artistic vision with hers has resulted in collections that have resonated with the brand’s heritage and evolution. The duality of their creativity has become part of Prada’s aesthetic.

This partnership has perhaps most definitively reflected Mrs Prada’s openness to embracing change and sharing the creative load, which is now immense.Since she started working for the family company, she has grown the business from one store in Milan to more than 600 owned and franchised branches with more than 13,000 employees.

And, of course, she also designs Miu Miu, which is itself soaring in popularity. The mutual respect and admiration between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons has fostered an environment where ideas can seamlessly flow between them. Their work underscores a shared vision for the future, where innovation, inclusivity and artistic expression continue to be explored. In navigating the complex world of transition and the future, Mrs Prada’s decision to welcome Simons into the family symbolises a celebration of the creative spirit’s endless possibilities.Together, they continue to shape Prada’s narrative, ensuring that the power of uniqueness remains.

Taken from 10 Magazine Australia Issue 23 – DARE TO DREAM – out now!