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
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. Style.com (September 20, 2012) Accessed May 9, 2013.