THE KINGPIN OF THE TEXTILE REINVENTION
Emilio Pucci was the kingpin of textile reinvention and beautiful prints in the fifties and sixties. His designs revolutionized the world of fashion, knocking the previous trend of dull colors and heavy fabrics out of fashion and developing a fan following that was almost unheard of at the time. Today, original Pucci prints from the beginning of his career are highly collectible items. This does not mean Pucci has been relegated to history, the brand’s current designs are equally coveted items in every starlicious diva’s wardrobe.
Lived from 1914 until 1992, Emilio Pucci was born in Florence to one of the most noble families at the time. He worked and lived in the Pucci Palace for much of his life. He is considered as a great fashion designer as well as a willful politician. Emilio and his eponymous label are both synonymous to geometric patterns and colorful kaleidoscope.
Pucci was passionate about sports and had the sportsman spirit instilled deep into him – he skied, swam, played tennis, raced cars and fenced. By the time he was seventeen years old, Pucci travelled with the Italian team to Lake Placid for the 1932 Winter Olympics, but did not complete the expedition.
After studying at the University of Milan for two years, he learned agriculture in Athens from the University of Georgia where he became Demosthenian Literary Society member. Three years after the Winter Olympics, he won a skiing scholarship for Reed College and completed a master’s degree in social science from there. In addition to this, he was awarded his political science doctorate from University of Florence.
Moving on, Pucci’s first design project was to make clothes for the skiing team of Reed College. It was in 1947 that his work garnered wider attention. Pucci designed a skiwear for a female buddy and it was photographed by an employee of Harper’s Bazaar, Toni Frissell. The editor of the magazine then ask Frissell to ask Pucci to create skiwear for a European Winter Fashion story. When the clothes were featured in 1948 during the winter season, Emilio’s designs caused widespread awareness and the designer received many offers from manufacturers in America to produce for them. However, Pucci opened his own haute couture store in Isle of Capri’s Canzone del Mare.
Initially he used stretch materials to make swimwear in 1949, but later on Pucci experimented and moved on to other things, such as bold and bright colored silk patterned scarves. He was then encouraged by Stanley Marcus (Neiman Marcus) to use such a design in blouses. As the business expanded, Pucci opened a store in Rome. In 1950s, he was achieving worldwide recognition. The designer was presented with the Neiman Marcus Award during a ceremony held in Dallas. Moreover, he was given the Burdine’s Sunshine Award. By the 60s, he became more popular when the iconic Marilyn Monroe became his fan. George Barris photographed her in a variety of items made by Pucci. In fact, she was buried wearing one of his outfits. As the time progressed, his designs were worn by people like Jackie Kennedy, Madonna and Sophia Loren.
Pucci won awards for his innovative style, including two from Neiman-Marcus in 1954 and 1967 for "distinguished service" in the field of fashion. He continued to create new and wonderful designs, branching out into stretch fabrics for pants, tights, and other garments.
In the late 1960's, Pucci was elected to the Italian Parliament. He was a respected and well-known fascist, having penned many pieces on his political views. He continued to act as head designer for the House of Pucci until his death in 1992.