The Prada Cleo first debuted during Prada’s Spring/Summer 2021 ‘The Show That Never Happened,’ hitting the handbag scene with a big release in late 2020. Playing on a popular archival ’90s shape from Prada’s past, the Cleo is meant to showcase the evolution and reinvention of the brand while paying homage to its heritage. Its sleek shape quickly became a favorite of the fashion set, and the Cleo bag rose to It-bag status with a momentum reminiscent of the early days of the It-bag.
I was immediately drawn to the range of Cleo bags, and the more I saw the bag styled and worn both IRL while out and about in New York and during our fashion week coverage, the more I really wanted it. I toyed with the idea of getting it last year in black, but ultimately I held off, and I’m glad I did because I realized that I wouldn’t necessarily wear a black bag as much as I would another color.
I mulled over the range of colors that Prada offered, and while I love a beautifully colored bag, I could not get the crisp, snowy white Cleo out of my head, and earlier this year, I made it mine. After a decent amount of wears, I finally feel confident enough to give you all a proper purseonal review of my new Prada Cleo bag.
Let’s dive right in!
While the Prada Cleo lacks in other areas (more on that later), it wins a full five stars from me when it comes to aesthetics. The design of the Cleo is incredibly simple, yes, but with its streamlined design, curved lines, and shiny brushed leather, the Cleo, quite literally, shines. What I love about the Cleo is its styling versatility, despite what you might think at first glance.
The Cleo looks incredibly chic dressed up for a night out, and I’ve worn it several times for dinners with friends and nights out in the city. Mostly, though, I’ve worn it during the day, and this is where its variability comes in. The Cleo turns from chic to cool when you dress it down (think sneakers and joggers, jeans and boots, or, like I wore it here, with a fun coat and colorful Bottega Veneta Puddle Boots).
Usability + Functionality
Admittedly, I struggled with how to rate the Cleo’s functionality. The Cleo’s slim profile means that it’s tiny and not-so-mighty. While it won’t be the bag you’ll reach for if you’re looking for functionality, if you’re looking for fashion, the Cleo has got you covered. Still, I struggled to give the Cleo only three stars, as most handbag lovers will likely understand this when purchasing a slim shoulder bag silhouette.
In terms of usability, the Cleo is easy to get in and out of on the go, offering a secure snap closure. Because the bag is small inside, your belongings won’t get lost inside, and the interior pocket does allow you to skip a wallet or a card case if you want. It’s lightweight, and additionally, you won’t feel any tugging on your shoulder due to the small nature of the bag’s interior — you simply can’t stuff it to the brim. Dying to know what fits? I carry my iPhone 13, my Louis Vuitton Vernis Key Pouch, a couple of lip balms, a small round tupperware with my medication, that’s pretty much the extent of it. Overall dimensions are 11″ W x 8.3″ H x 2.4″ D.
Quality + Construction
When the bag was first released, early press materials for the bag discussed how the Cleo melds Prada’s modernity with its storied attention to detail and craftsmanship. All that and more is apparent at just one glance and with one touch. The Cleo is a beautifully made bag, there is no question about that, and Prada’s brushed leather, which has a nice sheen to it, feels smooth but not buttery due to its finish.
Inside, the bag is lined in the classic Prada logo nylon lining, which I really like due to nylon’s durability. There is minimal hardware, but you’ll see that no detail is left untouched, and even the metal hook that attaches the bag’s strap to its body is engraved with PRADA.
Price + Value
The price of designer bags has become astronomical lately, with luxury brands implementing once or even twice-yearly price increases, and the Prada Cleo wasn’t left unscathed. Last year, in January of 2022, the Prada Cleo retailed for $2,400, while today, it’s up to a whopping $3,100, which, admittedly, is a lot for a small shoulder bag.
However, the bag is both beautiful to look at and beautifully crafted, making it a worthwhile purchase. Additionally, the Prada Cleo is just one of many Prada bags that you can snag via Italist. Italist allows you access to the world’s most coveted designer bags at the European price, and if you’re looking to snag the Prada Cleo bag, you can save about $1,000 by purchasing through Italist, which is where I got my Cleo. Purchase the Prada Cleo via Italist.
The Prada Cleo offers a mix of that classic Prada feel and modernity. Part of the new chapter of Prada, the Cleo continues to reign supreme, a favorite of street-style stars, editors, celebrities, and fashion’s finest. Not to mention, it strikes the perfect balance of on-trend and timeless, a shape that will remain relevant in your closet for years to come. Additionally, if you go for a neutral hue like white, black, or even beige, its staying power becomes even greater.
Overall, adding the Prada Cleo to my collection after lusting after it for the last couple of years definitely brought me those familiar handbag butterflies we all chase and not an ounce of regret! I’ve had it in my rotation since it arrived, and it continues to make me happy to take it out for a spin, whether I’m heading somewhere fun or just running around NYC. The Cleo offers a certain amount of Prada heritage, which can be appreciated by longtime collectors while still feeling fresh. If you’re looking for the perfect small shoulder bag that is stylish and chic yet a timeless closet staple with versatility in styling, the Cleo is the one for you.