By Pema Bakshi

Reimagining an Icon: The Many Lives of the Prada Galleria Bag

The timeless silhouette has served as a luxurious canvas for over a decade.
Prada Galleria bag
Prada Galleria Bag

Fashion’s landscape has never seen such sporadic shifts as it has in the last several years. With the rise of micro-trends, hyper-fast fashion and TikTok, it’s never been more challenging to stay agile and relevant—particularly when it comes to accessories.

The Galleria is one of Prada’s most enduring fixtures—arguably, one of the most recognisable accessories in the world. With its timeless, anti-trend silhouette, and impeccable make, it is an heirloom that holds a special place in the house’s rich history.

Born in 2007, the Galleria is named after Prada’s first flagship, which still sits under the 19th-century Galleria Emanuele II’s glass dome in Milan, Italy. The store itself has been left mostly untouched since its opening in 1913, with its mahogany shelves, signage, and expansive arched front windows serving as an ode to the brand’s beginnings.  

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Just like the store, the bag (which was inspired by the medicine bags of the 1950s) remains available in its original form, which undergoes the same lengthy manufacturing process as it did over a decade ago. Crafted from Saffiano leather (a scratch and water-resistant calfskin) the surface is defined by a cross-hatched texture that goes through an intricate hot-pressing process, ending with the raw edges being smoothed and hand-painted to match. It’s a material patented by Mario Prada himself (Miuccia Prada was his youngest granddaughter) and remains a leitmotif for the family-run company to this day.

Prada Gallerie bag
Small Prada Galleria Saffiano Special Edition Bag

As Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons continue to forge the House’s place in fashion together, the Galleria remains a constant that recalls the company’s history, while open to the future. With a vision steeped in an appreciation for hand craftsmanship, the bag is a true reflection of Prada’s unwavering dedication to design. From the leather and gold-toned triangle-shaped Prada plaque to the removable leather key ring and elegant lines, the bag’s 83 individual pieces are fused together with an industrial precision only possible by hand.

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Aesthetic and purpose are equally considered, with a beautiful exterior that accommodates the needs of modern living. Indeed, it’s this kind of design method that remains a hallmark of Prada’s 21st-century identity. Though constantly evolving to push fashion further, Prada never compromises on function or quality.

While the classic silhouette is a mainstay of collections, the surface of the Galleria bag has been consistently reimagined in a spectrum of colours, an array of leathers, some exuberantly embellished and embroidered, others defined simply with a band of topstitching, or a canvas for exploration through graphic shapes and bold contrasting tones. As with any icon, its unshakable essence imparts a timeless appeal, while seasonal updates speak to the mood of the moment.

Prada Galleria bag
Small Prada Galleria Saffiano Special Edition Bag

Putting the quiet icon in the spotlight, Prada now reimagines the silhouette again, this time in collaboration with Venezuelan-American artist Alex Da Corte. Boasting fresh colourways, the Prada Galleria handbag is celebrated alongside an icon of popular culture, actress Scarlett Johansson, who is bathed in vivid hues that are as expressive as the two campaign stars themselves.

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Entitled, The Glass Age, the campaign uses colour, shadows, and reflections to showcase the actress’ seamless ability to embody different identities and spirits—a reflection of the bag, which transforms in colours and patterns as Johansson’s emotions do. As we see in Da Corte’s work, colour is innately synched to emotion, evoking an array of feelings that can be played with to tap into particular moods.

Prada Galleria bag
Small Prada Galleria Saffiano Special Edition Bag

By shining a light on the Galleria bag, Prada offers a whole new generation of luxury consumers a chance to resonate deeper with the brand. Through nods to a rich heritage, and the agility to deconstruct its own past, Prada cements its place as an infallible choice for the discerning luxury clientele of today. After all, trends come and go, but with the Prada Galleria bag, we’re reminded of what it takes to make something that truly lasts.

To view the full collection of Prada Galleria bags, head here.

Scar Jo Prada
Image: Prada

This story first appeared on GRAZIA International.