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BERTELLI ON THE RECORD: There’s a reason most married couples avoid working with each other, especially when one manages the finances. However, designer Miuccia Prada and her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, have somehow made it work for several decades now, despite their often violent arguments and Bertelli’s friction with the rest of the Prada staff.
Bertelli is on the cover of the latest WSJ., out Friday, while the couple is profiled inside. “We work hard. It’s always an intense relationship, and it’s exhausting having to work with him. But I admire and respect him,” Prada says. “It’s a war in here every minute, and to be part of this company, you have to be trained.”
This story first appeared in the March 10, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
And the designer is well aware of her husband’s volcanic reputation. “I always tell Bertelli: You like this reputation, or you’d change it,” says Prada, who always refers to her husband by his last name. When he was overseeing the decor of a new Miu Miu store in Manhattan in 1997, he took issue with a mirror and smashed it.
“It made people look too fat,” he recalls. He famously broke the taillights of several cars parked in the wrong spaces of Prada’s parking lot. “I enjoyed that,” he says with a laugh.
In the piece, Bertelli is trying to convince his wife to embrace digital media and, more specifically, Twitter. When a mutual friend suggests she join the micro-blogging service, the designer bristles: “Well, what if we found out years from now that Twitter is crap. Maybe years from now, we’ll all have been mistaken,” Prada retorts.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Bertelli belts back. “Communications move fast and fast communication compromises quality. It’s inevitable, and you have to accept that.”
Bertelli also talks of a possible initial public offering, noting the stock market is the best option to give the company a real future. The article claims that his “extralarge ambitions have left the company in need of funds.” During the Nineties, the company spent more than a half-billion dollars to buy Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and others, leading to more than a billion dollars in debt by the end of the decade, on sales of around $1.5 billion at the time. “The rationale was that we had grown a lot for 10 years, and we wanted to diversify — but not by going into hotels or wines,” Bertelli says. “This may be considered a mistake in hindsight, but it was plausible at the time. In 1995, all of us were asking ourselves how we were going to grow. Later we realized that there wasn’t necessarily a need to expand into new labels because there were so many growth opportunities in new markets.”
He noted mistakes were made with Jil Sander and Helmut Lang, adding it’s 50 percent his fault and 50 percent theirs. “But now we are rid of these brands, and things are good,” he said. — Amy Wicks
SUMMER THREESOME: What do you get when you put a Victoria’s Secret angel, a Sports Illustrated cover girl and the most in-demand plus-size model on a beach in St. Barth’s? The cover of Glamour magazine, it appears.
WWD has learned that Matthias Vriens-McGrath shot Alessandra Ambrosio, Brooklyn Decker and Crystal Renn on the Caribbean island over the weekend for the cover of Glamour’s June issue. Judging from some TwitPics posted by Decker and Ambrosio, the theme of the shoot involved fun in the sun, with the trio lounging in swimsuits and showing plenty of skin. Celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson was on hand for the shoot, as he appears in one of Ambrosio’s photographs.
While Ambrosio was on the cover of Glamour in May 2006 — coincidentally, the last time the magazine featured a model on its cover — this is a first for Decker and Renn. And it is something of a crowning achievement for Renn, who’s been heavily promoted by Glamour since appearing in a Patrick Demarchelier-lensed fashion story in May. That shoot was greeted with much fanfare, given Renn’s larger-than-standard measurements (she is a size 12), and the industry’s then-still-growing fascination with plus-size women. (Renn went on to publish a memoir, “Hungry,” in the fall, about her teenage years as a high-fashion model, and appeared in V magazine’s Size Issue in January, in a multipage spread shot by Terry Richardson.)
At the same time, Glamour has seen how plus size can translate into great p.r. Case in point: In the fall, a small photo of a young pot-bellied model named Lizzie Miller, which appeared buried in the September issue, sparked enormous blog buzz and reader feedback — as well as a popular blog post by editor in chief Cindi Leive titled “The Picture You Can’t Stop Talking About: Meet ‘the Woman on p. 194.’” It also landed Miller and Leive on the “Today” show and made Glamour the face, as it were, of the Botticelli-body trend and a champion of real-women-with-curves in fashion. Since then, the magazine has prominently featured larger-than-average models including Miller and Renn in its pages.
The question remains: Will the combo of plus-size and bodacious play at newsstands? — Nick Axelrod