Fashion Birthday: Miuccia Prada

Happy birthday to Miuccia Prada, born on May 10, 1949! Prada, the creative force behind her family's 100 year old company, has a knack for distilling her interests (in and outside of fashion) into influential collections that chart the course of fashion. Miuccia Prada's design philosophy revolves around a version of aspirational dressing: "Clothes should always represent your vision of
yourself…or what you want to represent—even if it's only for one night."1 Her approach to design is thoughtful. Rather than providing pat answers regarding her inspiration for a particular collection, Miuccia Prada offers explanations that hint at her interest in connecting fashion with broader cultural issues. Regarding her Spring 2013 collection, Prada declared, "Dream is forbidden, nostalgia is forbidden, to be too sweet is not good. Everything we used to feel historically, now you can't enjoy. The clothes are the expression of this impossible dream."2

2005591abPrada pumps
Museum Purchase

Much has been written about Miuccia Prada's unique educational background. Before becoming a designer, Prada earned a Ph.D. in political
science, studied to be a mime, and was a member of the Italian Communist
Party. Prada was a reluctant participant in the fashion industry, taking over her
family's luxury leather goods company in 1977 only at her mother's urging. She gradually expanded the company's offerings, introducing a
black nylon backpack in 1984. Like many of her subsequent
accessory designs, Miuccia Prada's low-key backpack was snatched up by fashion insiders.
After the success of this relatively modest backpack Prada expanded into womenswear in
1989. Miu Miu, a secondary line sometimes called Prada's little sister,
and a line of menswear, soon followed.

Miuccia Prada's aesthetic often references fashions of past decades, but her designs aren't purely retro. Instead, Prada's work concentrates the relevant elements of vintage style into clothing suited for the present. These shapely silk satin pumps suggest the strict, glamorous shoe styles of the 1950s. Though they hint at the past, particularly at the work of Roger Vivier, details like slightly squared toes, and off-kilter bows, lift these elegant pumps out of the past.


We're fortunate to have another fantastic pair of Prada shoes in our collection. Dating from Spring/Summer 2008, the fanciful orchid shoes are a dramatically different display of Miuccia Prada's creativity. Want to compare and contrast? See Prada's purple and green orchid shoes here.

1 “Fashion: The Magnificent Seven: Miuccia Prada/Prada.” Vogue (Sep 1, 2005): 668.
2 "Spring 2013 Ready-To-Wear/Prada Runway Review" Phelps, Nicole. (September 20, 2012) Accessed May 9, 2013.

One response to “Fashion Birthday: Miuccia Prada

  1. Rachel says:

    Also! Miuccia Prada’s work is featured in the new, eagerly anticipated film version of The Great Gatsby (2013). Prada worked with Catherine Martin, the film’s costume designer, to create costumes based on garments from Miu Miu and Prada’s archives. Have you seen the film?? What do you think of the costumes?

    Here’s a look at some of the costumes:—baz-luhrmann-film

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