Born Maria Bianchion 10 May 1949 in Milan, she took the name Miuccia Prada in the 1980s, after being adopted by an aunt. Her biological parents were Luigi Bianchi and his wife, Luisa Prada. She has two older siblings, Albert and Marina. She attended Liceo Classico Berchet high school in Milan and graduated with a PhD in political science from the University of Milan. She trained to become a mime and performed for five years. She was also a member of the Italian Communist Party and was involved in the women’s rights movement during the seventies in Milan. In 1978, she decided to enter her family business of leather luxury bags, a company that was established in 1913, by her grandfather. It was around this time when she met Patrizio Bertelli, who will become her future husband, and together they will create a billion-dollar fashion company.
Miuccia Prada is the only fashion designer to have a doctorate in political science and to be a political activist. Her unique background has allowed her to create by instinct, but also by understanding the cultural shifts that take place, and her unique ability has been in considering issues that influence how we consume fashion. In 1984, she introduced the infamous black nylon Prada backpack that will have a groundbreaking effect on the industry and pave the way for the designer handbag revolution. Made from the same heavyweight material used by the Italian army, it was an instant hit with its recognizable triangle Prada logo and card verifying its authenticity.
The famous “Vela” nylon backpack launched in 1984. Photo source: Fashion Archives Nostalgia.
Key Success Factors:
Prada’s success lay in her extraordinary ability to predict and respond to cultural changes, and it was this ability alone that has resulted in the creation of an iconic brand. She continues to adapt to changes taking place today, with an investment in digital transformation, sustainability efforts by re-introducing older collections, as well as investing in art projects.
Prada store in Hong Kong in the famous “Prada green”. Photo source: Prada.