MILAN — Prada is taking its design team east and west.
In a groundbreaking move, the luxury goods house said it plans to open two new design and research offices in Paris and Hong Kong, the first outside company headquarters here. The offices will be complementary to and coordinated by the Milan base and are expected to be up and running within the first half.
The company said the openings are in line with international development of its brands and will help it approach creativity in a new manner.
“Gruppo Prada believe that research must represent cultural integration and the synthesis of a real intellectual collaboration between different worlds,” the firm said. “To obtain this, it is necessary to create a real network from which to draw and acquire ideas, innovative cues and new resources in all fields, including that of technological advancement.”
The offices will help stimulate and promote new international resources, while also consolidating Prada’s presence in two important cities at both the design and business levels, said the company.
“This is a very intelligent and innovative way of thinking,” said a Milan-based luxury goods consultant, who requested anonymity. “Automakers and phone companies have research and design centers around the world, why shouldn’t fashion? Also, it’s one thing to have a team living in Asia, for example, with a different approach and way of thinking, and a totally different thing to have employees based in Milan who travel to Asia.”
The source also noted Prada has always invested heavily in its design team and in shaping new talent. Several designers flourished during their time at the company and went on to succeed in the industry, including Yves Saint Laurent creative director Stefano Pilati, who was Miuccia Prada’s assistant designer at Miu Miu; Neil Barrett, who today designs his own line; Yvan Mispelaere, now creative director at Diane von Furstenberg; Rodolfo Paglialunga, now creative director at Vionnet, and former Gucci and Valentino creative director Alessandra Facchinetti.
While the Hong Kong office “obviously signals a strong attention to Asia,” said the source, the reason for a base in Paris is less transparent. “Either [Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli] found the right person to head the team there, or, given that Miu Miu shows in Paris, they may want to further differentiate it from the signature line,” he speculated.
Armando Branchini, vice president of Milan-based consulting firm InterCorporate, also applauded the project. “It’s a very positive move: it’s so important to have antennae on the market,” he said. “These new design offices will allow Prada to be more in touch with local aesthetics and culture. Globalization does not mean homogenization, but the ability to take into account and enhance cultural and aesthetic diversity.”
The analyst also said the choice of Hong Kong was a nod to the firm’s possible IPO. Speculation has been mounting that Prada might be considering a listing in Hong Kong, as the Italian firm capitalizes on growing revenues in the Asia-Pacific region. That market showed a 51 percent surge in sales in the first nine months of 2010. In particular, China is the area that is developing at the quickest pace for the company, which intends to open 17 stores there next year and another 11 in 2012. As reported, Prada is planning a fashion show in Beijing on Jan. 22 to make a statement in China.
Regarding the timing of the IPO, Prada said in November that it will likely take place in the second half of 2011, depending on market conditions. The company canceled plans for a listing several times over the past few years. A location has not been confirmed.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye