Prada: Fashion and Subversion

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Art and fashion have a complicated relationship. While some argue that fashion is a form of art, others reject the idea completely. Miuccia Prada is on the second team, which seems ironic since her brand has a very close relation to the arts through the Fondazione Prada and collaborations with filmmakers (Ridley Scott and Roman Polanski, among many others), architects (the Dutch Rem Koolhaas, for example, is responsible for designing most of the brand’s ‘epicenters’), and many other artists. Still, Miuccia thinks her work has nothing to do with art. Coming from someone with a doctorate in political science, that believed being a designer meant “giving up the brain”, it’s understandable. On the other hand, she was a communist militant who liked fashion and used to go to protests wearing Yves Saint Laurent.

The contact with luxury existed because of the family business, a luggage and leather accessories store founded by his grandfather, Mario, in 1913, at Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.  She took over the brand in 1978 without having the slightest idea of what to do with it. At the insistence of her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, in the late 1980s she decided to invest in women’s fashion, after creating a certain black nylon backpack that became an instant hit.

The next decade was transformative. Miuccia put her intellect into fashion with the deliberate intention of subverting standards. Typical feminine figures, as the matriarch, the prostitute and the nun were important references, as well as her bourgeois roots. The Prada woman is not worried about being beautiful or attractive. She is in control, but never without losing femininity. She doesn’t need beauty to instigate the desire, so her “ugly but cool” clothes soon amused the media and aroused the public’s curiosity. Add to that a constant appropriation of the past with an eye towards the future and the scene is complete.

In Prada and in Miu Miu, in womens and menswear, Miuccia leaves a mark of innovation in every collection. She’s aware of her power to change the course of fashion by bringing new ideas and reflections about the way we dress, and have been doing it for over 20 years in a vigorous and surprising manner. For all this, Prada is the archetype of the Creator. Her desire to create something new and to give shape to a non-conformist vision transformed fashion. It is no exaggeration to say that everything that Prada does the rest of the (fashion) world follows. Her colour palettes, fabrics, accessories and cuts are the concepts that guide the season. It may or may not be art, but there is no doubt that her influence has made history!

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