The House of Prada
Founder: Mario Prada 1913 – Milan, Italy
Prada is an Italian high- fashion house specializing in luxury goods for men and women’s ready-to-wear,
leather accessories, shoes and luggage. Prada is world renowned and considered one of the most influential
clothing design companies in the fashion industry. Like many other luxury brands, Prada battles against
counterfeiting and ensures authenticity only from its official boutiques (found globally) and online store.
The company began as Fratelli Prada (English: Prada Brothers) by Mario Prada in 1913 as a leather goods
shop in Milan, Italy. His shop also sold imported English steamer trunks and handbags.
Mario Prada did not believe in women ‘s interaction within the business environment and so he prevented
female members from entering into his workshop. After Mario’s death in the mid-1950’s, his son had no
interest in the business so ironically, it was his daughter-in-law who took over the helm of Prada and ran the
company for almost twenty years. Her daughter, Miuccia Prada joined the company in 1970. Miuccia began
making waterproof backpacks out of Pocone. She met Patrizio Bertelli in 1977, an Italian who had begun his
own leather goods business at age 17. He soon joined Prada. Patrizio advised Miuccia on making better
decisions for the Prada company and she followed his suggestions. It was Patrizio’s advice to stop importing
English goods and to begin to revolutionize the old-fashioned luggage styles.
The Prada ascent into high – fashion
Miuccia inherited the Prada company in 1978 at which time sales had grown to $478,000 USD. With Bertelli
as her business manager, Miuccia was allowed time to concentrate completely on design. She would begin to
incorporate her ideas into the House of Prada which would transform it into a label of world renown.
1979- Miuccia Prada releases her first set of backpacks and totes that were made of a tough military spec
black nylon that her grandfather Mario had used as coverings for his steamer trunks. Success was not
instant, as they were hard to sell due to lack of advertising and high-prices but they would go on to become
her first commercial hit.
Miuccia and Bertelli next sought out wholesale accounts for bags in upscale department stores and boutiques
1983- Prada opens a second boutique in Milan similar to the original store in the historic upscale shopping
district of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
1984 – Prada launches the nylon tote.
1984 – The House of Prada begins expansion across continental Europe by opening locations in prominent
shopping districts within Florence, Paris, Madrid and New York City.
1984 – A shoe line is released.
1985 – Miuccia Prada launches the classic Prada handbag that becomes an overnight sensation.
1987 – Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli marry.
1989 – Prada launches its women’s ready – to – wear collection, known for its dropped waistlines and narrow
Prada’s popularity skyrocketed when the fashion world took notice of its clean lines, opulent fabrics and basic
colors. During this period in the late 1980’s, the designs that came out of the House of Prada reflected a
feminine worker aesthetic which made it quite unique in comparison to other high-fashion brands. The
designs would be identified with the affluent working woman who held demanding jobs. Thus it was no
surprise that Miuccia started calling her women’s line uniforms.
Prada’s originality earned the label a reputation as the most influential fashion house of the 1990’s in terms of
design and look. The signature Prada look encompassed luxurious fabrics in colors of mostly black, browns,
grays, greens and creams incorporated into simple yet provocative styles. Life in Italy publication states that
clothing was “Sexy and spoke of confidence without revealing too much skin”. Accessories included skinny
leather belts, elegant high heeled shoes and the classic handbag.
1990 – Sales were reported at over L 70 billion or $31.7 million USD.
1990 – Patrizio di Marco is put in charge of new business growth in the United States after working for Prada
Asia. He was successful in getting Prada bags prominently displayed in department stores, making them a hit
with fashion editors.
1990, 1991- Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli lead the Prada label on a very cautious expansion, making
products hard to come by.
1992 – The brand Miu Miu was launched. It was named after Miuccia’s nickname and catered to a younger
consumer base by offering apparel constructed out of “tacky synthetic fabrics”.
1993 – Prada was awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for accessories.
1994 – Sales reach $210 million USD (clothes being 20% of that) and was expected for double for 1995.
1995 – The men’s ready-to-wear collection is launched.
1995 – Prada again wins the council of Fashion Designers of America award this time for designer of the year.
1996 – The opening of the 18,000 sq ft Prada boutique in Manhattan, New York – the largest in the chain at
1996 – The House of Prada was operating 40 locations worldwide, 20 of which were prominently located in
Japan. The company then owned eight manufacturing facilities and was subcontracting work through 84
other manufacturers in Italy.
1996 – The Prada and Bertelli companies merge to create Prapar B.V. later to be changed to Prada B.V.
Patrizio Bertelli was named CEO of the Prada Luxury Company that year.
1997 – Revenue was reported to be over $674 million USD. Another location opened in Milan, Italy that same
year. Prada also acquired shares of the Gucci group around this time but Bertelli would later blame Gucci for
aping his wife’s designs.
1998 – In June 1998, Bertelli gained 9.5% in interest on Gucci shares which cost $260 million. Financial
analysts began to speculate that he was attempting a take over of the Gucci group. This seemed unlikely
because Prada still was still considered a small company at the time.
At the very least, Prada had a voice as one of Gucci’s largest shareholders and would have stood to profit
handsomely if anyone had tried to take over Gucci.
1998- Bertelli sells his Gucci shares to Louis Vuitton – Moët Hennessy(LVMH) chairman Bernard Arnault for a
profit of $140 million USD. Arnault was in fact attempting a full take over of Gucci as LVMH had been
purchasing brands for a while and already owned Dior, Givenchy and numerous other luxury labels.
1998- The first Prada menswear boutique opened in Los Angeles.
In the late 90’s Prada made a series of moves in a quest to become one of the worlds largest portfolio holders
of luxury brands.
1999 – Prada purchases 51% of Helmut Lang’s New York based company for $40 million USD. Lang’s
company was worth $100 million USD
1999 – Prada pays $105 million USD to have full control of Jil Sander A.G., a German based company with
annual revenue of $100 million USD. The purchase gave Prada a foothold in Germany. Later that year Jil
Sander resigned as chairwoman from the company she started.
1999 – Prada buys 83% of Church & Company, an English brand quality shoe maker at $170 million USD.
1999- A joint venture was formed between Prada and the De Rigo group for the manufacturing of Prada
1999 (October) – Prada teams up with LVMH to purchase together a 51% stake in the Rome-based luxury
company Fendi S.p.A. The total purchase price was a reported $520 million USD of which Prada’s half was
(25.5%) $241.5 million USD.
These acquisitions in the latter part of the 90’s let to Prada’s rise to the high ranks amongst European luxury
goods groups. Revenue tripled from that of 1996 to just over L 2 trillion.
2001 – Patrizio Bertelli sold all of Prada’s 25.5% shares in Fendi to Louis Vuitton – Moët Hennessy.
2006 – The Helmut Lang, Amy Fairclough and Jil Sander labels were sold.
Fortune magazine states that Patrizio Bertelli plans to increase revenue for the House of Prada to $5 billion
USD by 2010.
The House of Dior
Founder: Christian Dior December 16, 1946 - Paris, France
Born in Granville, Normandy, a seaside town off the coast of France.
Life (January 21, 1905 - October 24, 1957)
Christian Dior was an influential French fashion designer, best known as founder of one of the world's top
fashion houses. Acceding to his parents wishes, Dior attended the École des Sciences Politiques from
1920 to 1925. The family, whos fortune was derrived from the manufacture of fertilizer, had hopes that he
would become a diplomat but Dior only wished to be involved in the arts, mostly fashion. To make money, he
sold his fashion sketches on the streets for about 10 cents each. After leaving school, Dior received money
from his father so that in 1928 he could open a small art gallery. Out of that gallery he sold many works
including those of Pablo Picasso and Max Jacob. After a family financial disaster that resulted i his father
losing his business, Dior was forced to close the gallery. Startng in 1938 he worked wity Robert Piquet and
later joined the fashion house where he and Pierre Balmain were the primary designers. During all of World
War II, Christian Dior dressed the wives of the Nazi officers and Frenc collaborators. In 1946, he went into
business for himself, backed by Marcel Boussac, the cotton-fabric magnate.
The House of Dior
Established on December 16, 1946, in "a private house" at 30 Avenue Montaigne Paris B. The new couture
house became a part of a "vertically integrate textile business" owned by Marcel Boussac. Dior was allowed
to have his own namesake label plus legal leadership, a non-controlling stake in the firm, and one-third of
pretax profits. Dior's talent also allowed him to negotiate a pleasant salary.
February 12, 1947 Monsieur launches his first fashion collection for Spring-Summer 1947. It was presented
in the salons of the company's headquarters at 30 Avenue Montaigne. The original two lines were named as
"Corolla" and "Eight" (which included the new "Bar Suit" silhouette). After Harper's Bazaar's editor-in-chief
Carmel Snow called the collection "The New Look", that is how the it would forever be known. The signature
shape was characterized by a below-mid-calf length, full-skirt, large bust and a small waist. In refutation to the
post-war fabric restriction, Dior infamously used 20 yards of extravagant fabrics in his creations. Over time,
the New Look became strongly popular, influencing fashion and other designers of that era for many years.
Prominent Hollywood figures and the European high class became instant clients. Paris, which had fallen
from its position as the world capital of fashion post WWII, regained that position due in part to the attention is
gained from Dior's New Look.
1947- The launch of the first perfume, Miss Dior.
1947- Pierre Cardin is placed as head of the Dior workshop until 1950.
1948- New York City Christian Dior Parfums location is established.
1949- "Diorama" perfume is released.
1950- A licensing agreement allows the "Christian Dior" label to be placed on neckties, hosiery, furs, hats,
gloves, handbags, jewelry, lingerie, and scarves.
1950- Dior designs exclusively for actress Marlene Kietrich in the Alfred Hitchcock film Stage Fright.
1951- The release of Dior's first book Je Suis Couturier(I am Couturier).
1952- Christian Dior Models Limited is created in London, England.
1953- Operations established in Mexico, Cuba, Canada and Italy.
1956- Dior creates 14 dresses for actress Ava Gardner for the film, "The Little Hut".
1957- Christian Dior appears on the cover of Time dated March 4, 1957.
The captivating impact of Dior's creative fashion genius earned him recognition as one of history's greatest
fashion figures. Keven Almond for contemporary fashion wrote, that "by the time Dior died, his name had
become synonymous with taste and luxury".
Today, John Galliano resides as the chief designer for Dior.
Copyright © 2007-2014The Michigan Fashion House. All rights reserved
The Prada Boutique at the
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
in Milan Italy