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Prada, SpA is an Italian fashion company (also known as a "label" or "house") with retail outlets worldwide.

The company, originally known in Italian as Fratelli Prada ("Prada Brothers"), was founded in 1913 by Mario Prada. In 1978, Mario's granddaughter Miuccia Prada inherited what was still a leather goods business from her mother, and led the company's expansion into haute couture.

Miuccia first gained her reputation for creative use of materials and simple, modern lines with her 1985 line of sleek black handbags made from parachute nylon. These novel, high-priced bags quickly became widely sought-after, and spawned a global industry of counterfeit Prada goods.

Prada's first Pret-a-porter, or "ready-to-wear" collection was designed by Miuccia Prada in the autumn/winter season of 1989. The collection's plain, modern lines were a stark contrast to other labels' flamboyant, sexual designs, and fueled a sharp rise in Prada's popularity.

In addition to the original Prada line, the company introduced the Miu Miu collection, a lower-priced line aimed at a younger audience, in 1992. The Miu Miu line, which shares Miuccia Prada's nickname, emphasizes earthy colors and a less haute couture look, evoking an overall more bohemian style. In its advertising campaigns, waif-like models in "home photo" poses further the look. Miu Miu clothing is often simple, and evokes a continual image of high-end vintage items. It was followed by the Prada Sport collection.

Prada rose to fashion primacy in the early 1990s on a look epitomized by thick, square glasses and garish colors known as "Prada Ugly." Prada takes a decidedly -- and consciously -- intellectual approach to fashion. The look of the early 2000's has been described as that of a "chic neo-fascist army" by the New York Times. Other critics have described Prada's look by comparing it to Gucci's: While the Gucci girl is swigging shots of tequila in the back of a nightclub wearing a miniskirt and halter top, the Prada girl is reading Proust in a cafe.

Prada won a Council of Fashion Designers of America International Award for accessories in 1993.

Although Prada remains the pinnacle of contemporary fashion following Tom Ford's retirement -- in 2004 Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour is said to have told Miuccia Prada that she was "the only reason anyone comes to Milan" for runway shows -- it continues to derive the overwhelming bulk of its revenues from its original leather goods business, the sale of shoes and handbags.

Following lead in other companies in a popular trend of large labels to absorb as many other fashion houses as possible, Prada took on large debts to take on the financially floundering Rome-based house of Fendi in the early 1990s. Prada shared shares in Fendi with the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy (LVMH) company. Prada was unable to turn around/support the money-losing Fendi label, and sold its Fendi shares to LVMH. Prada is still to recover from this debt. The only brand to avoid the pitfalls of forming a large luxury label company is that of Giorgio Armani.

Other labels within the Prada Group corporate umbrella include Helmut Lang and Jil Sander.

References in popular culture

In The Family Guy, Meg felt left out because she had an ugly purse. Her parents wouldn't give her the $1100 needed to buy a Prada, so she got a job to buy one herself. In this episode, the Prada bag is seen as a status symbol.

Lauren Weisberger titled her bestselling 2003 roman
clef
purportedly about her onetime boss, Anna Wintour, The Devil Wears Prada.

Beyond the tailored garment

Prada has commissioned international architects, most notably Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron, to design flagship stores in various locations, both as a marketing and branding concept as well as a differentiating feature.

In 2005, near the West Texas towns of Valentine and Marfa, a pair of Scandanavian artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, unveiled Prada Marfa, a sculpture masquerading as a Prada mini-botique. Located along an isolated stretch of U.S. Highway 90, the 15 by 25-foot adobe and stucco building was partially funded by the Prada Foundation.

The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prada  1/8/06

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