Miuccia Prada's designs are naff, says Italian designer on eve of his rival's debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 27 june 2011

This article titled “Prada’s stock market debut marred by ‘tacky’ charge from Giorgio Armani” was written by John Hooper in Rome, for The Guardian on Friday 24th June 2011 16.51 UTC

When Prada made its stock exchange debut in Hong Kong on Friday, it was the realisation of a dream held for at least 10 years by the creators of what has become Italy’s top-selling fashion house.

But the occasion was tainted by the lingering venom of the most toxic attack the Italian fashion world has seen in recent years. At a press conference in Milan on Tuesday Giorgio Armani tore into Miuccia Prada, saying she had “chosen the path of irony and of the bad taste that pleases”.

Armani acknowledged that the 62-year-old Prada, who has worked in her family’s fashion firm since 1978, was “brilliant in her way, as are the Dolce & Gabbana duo”, but added: “I’ve chosen to dress people.”

Using a highly offensive term in Italian, he said he refused to stage shows that were “baracconate“: tacky and improvised. “It’s a [sign of a] lack of respect for the customers,” he said.

Armani’s reference to Dolce & Gabbana was a distinctly back-handed compliment. Two years ago he accused the most famous partnership in style of plagiarising a pair of quilted trousers from his own collection of the year before. The row, inevitably dubbed “Trousergate”, was eventually patched up after his claims were indignantly denied by his younger rivals.

Among Prada’s most talked-about innovations this year is a line of tricolour wingtip espadrilles. The shoes have already found favour with the actor Jude Law, among others. But when asked about them at Tuesday’s press conference he said: “Only newspapers like what is naff.”

The permatanned 76-year-old then lit into Prada’s financial strategy. “Let’s not kid ourselves; Hong Kong is an easier stock exchange than the others,” he said.

“I don’t have debts,” he added. “Their problem, by contrast, is to pay back the banks what they have doled out to make the Prada name strong.”

It was the second spat in a week in the hothouse world of style. On Wednesday the Tunisian-born designer Azzedine Alaïa said Karl Lagerfeld’s creations were “too much caricature” and decried the dress sense of Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour.

Prada in Milan said it had no comment to make. Prada’s shares made a quiet start, closing at HK.60 (£3.18), just 0.25% above the offer price. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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