Miuccia Prada is often singled out as the most influential designer of our times, while it’s eponymous fashion brand is seen as having the most intriguing esthetic in the industry’s contemporary landscape.
None of these observations is, though, without reason. Miuccia Prada herself has a complex personality and has proved, over time, talents and inclinations of the most diverse, like the fascination for humanity’s expression of: literature, cinema, philosophy, science or plastic arts! All gathered under the single umbrella of a great project (adjacent to fashion) that bears the Prada signature. The Fondazione Prada!
I visited the foundation at its Venice premises, thanks to the support offered by Ţiriac Auto, via Mercedes-Benz GLA. And it came as no small wonder to be able to see, in a space different from a runway show location, the way fashion naturally weaves together with a variety of creative manifestations.
Fondazione Prada is hosted, in Venice, by palazzo Ca’ Corner della Regina. The palace was built between 1724 and 1728 on the ruins of the building in which, in 1454, Caterina Corner – future queen of Cyprus – was born. In 1800 Pope Pius VII became the owner of this place of great historical and architectural drama. It was in 2011 when Fondazione Prada, co-chaired by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli since 1995, opened its exhibition space in palazzo Ca’ Corner della Regina, becoming a real institution dedicated to (and promoting) art and culture.
Its spectacular location – on the Grand Canal – will amaze you while allowing you to fully feel the deeply Venetian roots of the place. Of course, no matter how much you love your car, a water taxi or a vaporetto will be more helpful to get you to Ponte di Rialto. From this point you can make a switch with a more romantic transportation system… La gondola…
Up until September 13, the Portable Classic exhibition is under display at Fondazione Prada Venice. Dedicated to exploring fascinating miniature replicas of classic sculptures, it constitutes a clear reference to the Greek & Roman art with some of its earliest and most splendid artistic expressions.
With the very first step you take inside the foundation’s building, you wish to and have the opportunity to learn more about its previous activities.
Breathtaking masterpieces have been gathered under the same sumptuous roof from the most reputed museums and collections of the world. The Prado Museum in Madrid, the Louvre Museum in Paris or the personal collection of Queen Elisabeth II are just a few examples.
At its Milan location, starting from 1993 and up until today, an impressive artistic portfolio has been cultivated. Conferences, exhibitions, festivals. Anish Kapoor in 1995, Steve McQueen in 2005, the showcasing of the Tribeca Film Festival 2004 movies, the publishing of no fewer than 37 books and albums, and the list could continue with, for example, the foundation’s international projects in Paris, London, Tokyo or Seoul.
Bar Luce – the Milan Fondazione Prada bar – also needs mentioning. It will introduce you into the authentic atmosphere of a typically Milanese cafe, while its stained glass ceiling reminiscent of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele will remind you that art is absolutely everywhere!
All as, the way it’s often highlighted, Miuccia Prada governs an artistic universe of the most far-reaching and eclectic kind…
Born Maria Prada, in 1949, in Milan, the designer got a Political Sciences PhD and for 5 years studied at Piccolo Teatro in order to become a professional mime. She only dedicated her career to fashion at the age of 39, with the launch of the family fashion house’s first ready-to-wear line. Up to that moment, Prada had only been designing leather goods.
Being the founder’s granddaughter, Miuccia Prada had started the re-writing of the brand’s history in 1985, with a backpack made out of the same type of nylon used by the Italian army.
In 1992 Prada was introducing the Miu Miu additional women’s line.
One year later, Miuccia Prada was being awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s international design award.
Today, Prada is famous for its refined style philosophy, not to mention for the fact that the most fashionable people on the planet are wearing Prada.
For instance Anna Wintour and Anna dello Russo – the Editors in Chief of Vogue USA and Vogue Japan respectively.
As well as some of Hollywood’s most established stars: Madonna, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Kylie Minogue, Milla Jovovich, Audrey Tatou, Adrien Brody or Will Smith. This, as the Oscar 2014 episode, when 4 Academy laureates – Lupita Nyong’o, Steve McQueen, Alfonso Cuaron and Catherine Martin – all wore Prada has made red carpet history.
YES, even The Devil Wears Prada!
Speaking of stars and cinema, it’s also remarkable to mention that Prada virtually won an Oscar. The Great Gatsby had its costumes managed by Academy Award for Costume Design laureate Catherine Martin. The wardrobe has been featuring no fewer than 40 Prada looks.
Also, The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson, had its own fare share of Prada glamour, through the luggage and leather accessories featured in the film.
Moreover, the Prada-Hollywood associations don’t end here. Edward Norton was ambassador for the mobile phones line developed by Prada and LG.
While Adrien Brody and Gary Oldman made podium appearances for the fall/winter 2013 collection.
And it’s not just Miuccia Prada to show multiple passions – Prada itself is the declared object of passion of the American designer, Marc Jacobs.
Now, in order to transfer the talk from the spontaneous realm of affinities down to a more concrete earth, mention of Prada’s sales needs to be made. The number, according to Forbes, is of 4.65 billion.
Miuccia Prada’s estimated net worth (2014) is of 11.1 billion dollars, which makes her one of the richest designers of the world!
The Italian fashion house is the official sponsor of La Luna Rossa sailing team – a Prada presence in one of the world’s most exclusivistic sports.
However, beyond all the glamour and business success, Miuccia Prada never sheds a drop of her playful sense: installed in her office there’s a slide. Created by artist Carsten Höller, it starts from the third floor office to spiral down for a courtyard landing.
A glide on a slide, a ride on the fascinating Prada carousel… A journey that, for being understood, needs to be accompanied by keys and clues. And, to follow up on precisely this idea, I conclude by mentioning three invitations:
1) That of exploring the Prada album (USD 79.90 on Amazon).
2) That of paying a visit to the world’s largest Prada store (800 square meters), in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa.
3) And, of course, that of coming to the Fondazione Prada, in Venice or Milan!
Photos: prada.com, amazon.com, thefashionisto.com, coolspotters.com, telegraph.co.uk