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.
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia