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Miuccia Prada: The Art of Italian Elegance

Miuccia Prada turns 75 on May 10th and she also celebrates the birthday of her eldest son, Lorenzo. She has become an icon of elegance and Italian chic. Her manifesto in life is still to “do well the things we like to do. More than business, we are interested in the ideas we believe in”. A feminist and student protester in 1968, Prada introduced the concept of “less is more” during the fashion of hedonism that triumphed in the 80s and 90s. She makes the “ugly” attractive: in the fashion system, with her prêt-a-porter, according to Elle Magazine Italia, “she codified the aesthetic disorder, characteristic of our contemporaneity.” Today, she collaborates with a new creative co-director, Raf Simons.

(Photo credit: voguearabia.com)

Mrs. Maria Bianchi, a native of Milan with Calabrian and Sicilian origins, is known by her nickname Miuccia and her mother’s last name, Prada. She is one of the richest and most powerful women in the world and a clear expression of a refined, cultured, and productive Italy. In her life, it’s all about serious work. Miuccia Prada and the city of Milan have expressed a splendid duo that lays the foundations of contemporary fashion. Prada is much more than a brilliant fashion designer and entrepreneur. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from Milan’s University La Statale and, passionate about mime, attended Milan’s famous Piccolo Teatro School of Theater. So, if the devil wears Prada, it’s for his sense of sophisticated elegance and unwavering commitment.

(Photo credit: corriere.it)

Miuccia Prada is the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, founder of the company. He, along with his brother Martino, founded Fratelli Prada in 1913, opening the first and now-historic Milan store at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. They produced beautiful objects designed to stay in fashion rather than the fad of a season or two: bags, trunks, shoes, leather, and crystal and silver accessories. In 1919, Prada Brothers became the official supplier of the Italian Royal Family, the Savoy. The store continues to stand out 110 years later in the Galleria as one of the most stunning in the world and sells, as in the past, every fashion victim’s objects of desire. The very invention of the maison’s logo, an upside-down triangle, is inspired by the family, in this case representing the closure of Grandfather Prada’s trunks.

(Photo credit: Areademulher.r7.com)

Her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, a Tuscan entrepreneur whom she met in 1977 in Milan, is the love of her life as well as CEO of the Prada Group. Together, they perform as an indissoluble team: she is the creative mind, he's the smart manager.  Bertelli's passion for sailing led Prada fashion to invent and adopt a particularly silky, waterproof nylon fiber called Pocono, and the first line of iconic women’s backpacks was born. In 1993, Prada designed MIU MIU which became a new line dedicated to young people that revolved around colors and nylon, the main elements for sails. This line has been another global success.

(Photo credit: handelszeitung.ch)

The couple’s two sons, Lorenzo and Giulio, are taking over the legacy of the family business. Both inherited their mother’s style and their father’s passion for sport and adventure. Lorenzo graduated in philosophy and is a member of Prada Holding’s Board of Directors and CMO of the Group. According to Forbes Italy, “sustainability is one of the keys to [Prada’s] marketing strategy.” Lorenzo’s greatest passion, however, is speed, so much so that he has competed in various tests in the World Rally Championship. Giulio, 28, continued his passion for sailing while studying architecture.

(Photo credit: pinterest.it)

Sailing is a family affair: since 2000, Prada’s boat, a jewel of the highest Italian technology and sponsored by Prada and Pirelli, has competed with important results in the America’s Cup, the world’s oldest sports trophy that dates to 1851. Prada and Bertelli – so the legend says- named the boat Luna Rossa to contrast with New Zealand’s Black Magic in the 2000 America’s Cup.

(Photo credit: ilfattoquotidiano.it)

Miuccia Prada’s love for culture is kaleidoscopic. Thirty years ago, she inaugurated the Prada Foundation and in the heart of Millan's ex- industrial area, exhibitions of contemporary art, film festivals, cultural events, and, of course, the fashion shows of the Prada maison are taking place. Another Prada Foundation project focuses on the youngest ones: the Accademia dei Bambini (Kids’ Academy). Every workshop at this Academy is dedicated to children and families and is conceived by a different “master,” an architect, educator, artist, scientist, director, or musician who is willing not only to teach but also to acquire new inspiration from the process. 

Barbara Benzoni

 Barbara Benzoni was born in Milan and lives between Rome and Tuscany. She is devoted to USA, the land of courage and innovation. She’s Peter's super-lucky mum and Ale's wife. Cinema, art, good food and only beautiful things are the themes of her existence. With a degree in Italian literature and a Masters in Sports Management she can both enjoys books and basketball matches. In 25 years she has been organizing sport events all over the world and she’s been lucky enough to meet the greatest champs ever. Curiosity in everyday life and people are her drivers. Her personal icon is Mohammed Ali : "It's not bragging if you can back it up".