Where They Were Then: Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada was a poli-sci major, a onetime member Communist party, and a passionate feminist who entered into a world of fashion that she once described as frivolous. Talk about conflicting interests. Here’s how she managed to take all of that and grow—in a major, may-jah way—the iconic luxury-goods company she inherited from her grandfather. —sunny

1949 - Miuccia Prada Bianchi is born in Milan, Italy. She’s the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, who at one time believed women should have no role in business.

1970 - Miuccia graduates from the University of Milan with a doctorate in political science—and becomes a mime for six years. She claims it’s because it gives her an excuse not to talk and that being “strange or different or eccentric” (per CNN) is in at the time.

1978 - She reluctantly takes over the luxury leather goods company that her grandfather had founded in 1913 and that her mother Luisa had been running for nearly 20 years. Key word: reluctantly.

1985 - A turning point for Miuccia Prada: She creates the quintessential bag—the black mini backpack—that would become a Prada staple. Eschewing standard luxury-world materials, she instead crafted it with a heavy-duty nylon originally used in the Italian army. Talk about revolutionary—and, no, not in the Marxist way.

1989 - Prada (finally!) launches her first ready-to-wear collection, to critical acclaim.

1990 - Prada, along with her business partner/husband Patrizio Bertelli go on a “buying spree,” scooping up labels like Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, and Azzedine Alaia. The acquisitions prove unprofitable and hinder the Prada label, but that’s one posh misstep.

1993 - Miuccia debuts the less expensive Miu Miu (her own nickname), inspired by her own personal wardrobe. That same year, she winds up winning the CFDA International Award, turns out a menswear line, and opens Prada’s Madison Avenue store in Manhattan. Yah, busy.

2007 - Prada is a full-fledged fashion conglomerate. And now one with an e-commerce site.

2011 - The Met announces that the Costume Institute will pair the works of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada (on view next year from May 7 to August 19). Some have been questioning what could stand up to the last exhibition, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.” Pretty sure they’ve found their answer.

Read about more huge names when they weren’t so big right over here.

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