Prada's austere individualism is powerfully attractive. That's why it sells.
"To be Prada is to be perfect in every way," reads one of the few examples of actual prose in Prada (Abrams, $125), the luxury-goods company's latest and largest coffee-table book. It's an image-heavy tome about image, and words are relegated to captions. The form makes clear what no corporate-authorized text could be expected to state outright: Prada, no differently from any other global brand, traffics in image.
Few companies seem as riven with contradictions as Prada. While its products are called "luxury," it remains best known for a line of leather-trimmed black nylon handbags that were perfectly pitched to early-1990s minimalism and remain popular today. Miuccia Prada has found success making clothes that, though often beautiful, are rarely nice to look at—or as longtime New York Times critic Cathy Horyn
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