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Reading Material: Prada Book Explores 30 Years of Style

Prada book about fashion house charts history and ventures into art, architecture and sport.

Prada Book

MILAN — Prada has released its first book, recapping 30 years of being at the vanguard of fashion, architecture, cinema and retail.

This story first appeared in the November 9, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Conceived and edited by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, the navy blue hardback, titled simply “Prada,” comes in a matching slipcase, embossed with the house’s roped and crest logo. The 708-page tome, priced at 100 euros, or $148 at current exchange, is being rolled out to Prada stores worldwide, to select bookstores and on prada.com. It is published by Prada Progetto Arte.

“For Prada, fashion, luxury and style go beyond producing an infinity of clothes and shoes, so the book wants to illustrate the various aspects through which Prada expresses itself,” said Bertelli, chief executive officer of Prada Group.

Roughly divided in two parts, called “Inside” and “Outside,” the book begins by retracing the company’s history and includes a photo essay by photographer and longtime collaborator Brigitte Lacombe, who also documents the elaborate manufacturing process behind a product.

Miuccia Prada’s creativity is portrayed in many ways, including a collage featuring 3,885 thumbnail images of her most directional shoes and bags, alongside runway shots.

This chapter also dips into the design studio’s creative culture. “I think we work extremely hard and our method is unusual because I don’t design, but I think of a concept and then develop it with my collaborators,” said Miuccia Prada at a press conference unveiling the book. Typically shunning the limelight, the designer was clad in a steel gray, laser cut skirt suit and black and Plexiglas sandals.

Part two of the tome showcases the brand’s activities in architecture, events, parties, exhibitions, the red carpet and the America’s Cup.

The last section is dedicated to the Fondazione Prada and ends with the Rem Koolhaas-designed museum being erected in Milan. Bertelli confirmed it will be ready in 2014, in time for the Expo. “What I love about Koolhaas is that, just like us, he’s never ready but he delivers amazingly well when under pressure or on deadline,” Bertelli said, smiling.

The presentation took place in Prada’s historic store in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, set up in like a library thanks to book-filled wooden bookcases and credenzas in the vaulted space with chessboard marble floors.

Bertelli also touched upon other topics, often injecting his dry sense of humor.

While stressing both he and his wife are in good “physical and psychological shape,” he did not rule out that their two sons Lorenzo, 21, and Giulio, 19, could at some point join the company. “But if they do,” he warned, chuckling, “they will start out as warehouse keepers.”

He cited a slight upturn in October sales, especially in the U.S., where he predicts that in five years, 40 percent of Prada’s revenues will hail from e-commerce. As a result, upgrading the brand’s Web site is a priority, Bertelli added. “Ideally, I’d like to sell clothes online that aren’t in stores yet and make them look catchy, not like a catalogue,” he said.

Bertelli is also considering Shanghai as a potential location for the next Prada Epicenter.

He said the new made-to-order store in Milan, which opened in September, is exceeding expectations because “people are tired of uniformity.” The store just introduced puffer jackets that can be produced in silk satin or duchesse, nylon and wool gabardine in 100 colors. Applying a fur collar that can be dyed to match the jacket is also an option.