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You have what it takes to be a Prada bag designer

“Never let anyone clip your wings.” It’s great advice for the students at Istituto Marangoni Milano that have been attending the conversation with Danilo Alberti, IM alumnus and now Women’s Leather Goods Design Director at Prada, or rather the brand’s right-hand man in choosing and defining the new bag models. 

Danilo Alberti, IM alumnus and now Women’s Leather Goods Design Director at Prada, introducing a contest together with Prada at Istituto Marangoni Milano. Fashion Design students are asked to imagine a brand-new accessory

Danilo Alberti, IM alumnus and now Women’s Leather Goods Design Director at Prada, introducing a contest together with Prada at Istituto Marangoni Milano. Fashion Design students are asked to imagine a brand-new accessory 

During the interview moderated by Anna Rogg, Danilo Alberti went deep into personal (and corporate) affairs, sharing his passion for art and culture and discussing how those intellectual interests are integral to everyone’s enrichment. His first advice to the students was to enrich themselves personally through everyday things such as study, travel, and research because a rich culture is essential to feeding creativity, vision and ideas. Time to inspire the audience.

Prada's Danilo Alberti with Fashion Design Master’s students and third-year BA Fashion Design students at Istituto Marangoni in Milan

Prada's Danilo Alberti with Fashion Design Master’s students and third-year BA Fashion Design students at Istituto Marangoni in Milan

Danilo Alberti was enthusiastic about talking to the students, as he, too, has a career at Istituto Marangoni behind him, the path he chose to take when he understood that architecture would not be his future. 

Despite his young age, Danilo Alberti had an impressive resume, as he has worked at Celine in France and Dolce&Gabbana in Milan, where he tried to interpret each brand’s DNA according to his personality and creative flair. He considers himself lucky because it is not an everyday opportunity to seize, especially in the fashion industry.

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Being creative while respecting a brand’s DNA? What a challenge

“What accessory is missing on the market?” This is how Danilo Alberti made his debut in launching a contest for Fashion Design Master’s students and third-year BA Fashion Design students at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, who will have the opportunity to show their creativity to a big player like the Prada group. The competition allows them to get involved by creating a product still missing from the brand’s merchandising offer. It must remain faithful to the fundamental values of the Made in Italy brand defined by Miuccia Prada.

Istituto Marangoni Milano Fashion students will have the opportunity to imagine an accessory and show their creativity to a big player like the Prada group

Istituto Marangoni Milano Fashion students will have the opportunity to imagine an accessory and show their creativity to a big player like the Prada group

Prada wants to get to know who is close to its world and understand how young people perceive it by asking them about their hobbies and passions, and the best way to do this is to leave them free to express themselves. 

The ultimate goal is to create a leather accessory that respects Prada’s DNA and defines codes, such as functionality and utility.

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Three mantra keywords for fashion designers 

“Passion, enthusiasm and research are the basis for conceiving a product that is remarkable not only for its exquisite aesthetics but also for all the meticulous and technical work behind it,” said Danilo Alberti.

Danilo Alberti sharing his three key mantras for emerging designers to follow when designing a product

Danilo Alberti sharing his three key mantras for emerging designers to follow when designing a product
  1. Dialogue 

During the conversation, the word “dialogue” emerged several times; it is a critical concept for Danilo Alberti, who argues that you need to talk and share opinions with others to reach the next level.

  1. Collaboration

A winning team is based on the sharing of thoughts and the interaction of several heads, as the only way to keep the competition healthy and benefit the company, but above all, our person. Prada constantly collaborates with artists, directors, architects, and signatures of the musical world to influence and interpret different visions resulting from an intelligent dialogue.

  1. Research

Designers are researchers, constantly digging for meaningful representations. Alberti explained to the students how much research was behind the looks of the film “The Great Gatsby” as the Prada team went to dig into the past to get a closer look at the costumes of that era, supporting a meticulous study for embroideries. Another example was the film “Elvis,” where the same repertoire research work led to recovering prints suitable for the looks of the film of the same name.

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Knowing how to be “Drivers of change”

Change is a hot topic today, more than ever. Prada is a great advocate for change, showing how to stay relevant through “liquid” times. In its corporate manifesto, the Prada Group states that being “Drivers of change” means for the brand to “offer an unconventional dialogue and interpretation of the contemporary, as an expression of our way of doing business for PLANET, PEOPLE and CULTURE,” caps lock intended. 

The brand wants to trigger a change in society, the company and customers’ lives. With those values in mind, IM students should constantly develop new ideas through research and apply their visions to the brand’s past staples. 

Prada's Danilo Alberti with Fashion Design Master’s students and third-year BA Fashion Design students at Istituto Marangoni in Milan

Prada's Danilo Alberti talking about the importance of the Prada archive at Istituto Marangoni in Milan

The main skill lies in reinterpreting iconic codes from the archive (a term dear to Prada) and remixing them unexpectedly, unpredictably, and creatively to make something new by reworking volumes, metal details and every detail of the object. 

However, for this to happen, we must not stop searching, confronting ourselves with the past. Danilo Alberti talked about the importance of the Prada archive, a truly magical place comparable to a book because you get to read it with different eyes each time.

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A glimpse into what’s behind the creation of a Prada leather accessory

The designer explained what’s behind a finished product or collection, describing how a style office works and the problems to face before selling it. Everything is coordinated by a calendar that must be agreed upon with the CNMI-Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana as regards the shows while also meeting other criteria, such as seasonality for special projects, capsule collections and the opening of new pop-up stores around the world.

The initial phase in a style office is brainstorming to share thoughts and ideas, aiming to create a new product that will be desirable, useful and functional; reflecting Prada’s aesthetic codes is always a must.

The philosophy behind this globally recognised fashion house is that everything must be useful, not only beautiful. It wants to convey the message that people are not just buying something to show off.

Get creative with Prada and design the perfect accessory. Here are two Istituto Marangoni Milano Fashion Design students starting to sketch during the launch of the contest

Get creative with Prada and design the perfect accessory. Here are two Istituto Marangoni Milano Fashion Design students starting to sketch during the launch of the contest

This first step is followed by extensive research, sketching, prototyping and revision so that samples can be translated into a combination of materials, metal details and volumes.

It is a constant work, where every detail must answer the question: “What is the meaning of this?” and “Why do we want to launch this product with these characteristics on the market?”.

The next critical step is the fashion show to present the products, starting from creating a moodboard strongly linked to a new attitude to the market and introducing a new concept of wearability. Research is again essential, as we must ask ourselves what the season’s new hot trend might be.

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Is Italy Prada, or is Prada Italy? 

This tough question we always ask ourselves when talking about the brand as a symbol of Italy, dictating the rules of style to the world and attracting international tourists, addresses the distance between Milan, the city where Made in Italy is shown to the world, to those parts of Italy where Italian products are made, but are still unknown to many.

Prada is more than just a brand: it’s a philosophy and a status symbol. It celebrates the timeless allure and concept of functional luxury that continues to inspire the world through an unmistakable aesthetic vision. 

Although industry experts perceived 2023 as a year of social and economic turbulence, the Prada Group managed to reverse the trend. The company recently achieved a significant milestone, demonstrating that luxury can grow even in times of crisis. 

Prada’s industrial headquarters in Valvigna, in the heart of Tuscany, is bathed in light, sleek and contemporary, surrounded by the lush native nature of the Valdarno valley in a manicured garden around the factory, with hedges planted even in the canteen to create a perfect environment to sip a coffee while chatting with the team.

Harmony is a theme dear to the Prada group, as always pointed out by Patrizio Bertelli, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Prada Group: “We have twenty-one factories in Italy, and we have always invested in creating an environment where people could feel at ease.”

 

 

 

Agnese Pasquinelli
Fashion Business, Digital Communication & Media student, 2nd year, Milan 
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postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses