Emilio Pucci changed the dark and dull world of fashion and gave the post-war world the style that lives even today.
Pucci's coloured swirlsMartha Taylor-Brown ▼ | Tuesday February 12, 2008 3:00AM ET
Italy is a land of colours. From the city of Florence, the heart of Renaissance, to the colourful fields of Sicily, the blue of the skies live above the green fields and rocky hills. A bit closer to Sicily than to Florence, in the city of Napoli, Emilio Pucci di Barsento was born in 1914.Young Emilio spent two years at Milan University and finished his study in the USA. Along with the academic career Mr. Emilio was also an athlete, a member of Olympic ski team, and obviously very brave man because he served in Italian Air Force during the Second World War. Mr. Emilio earned a doctorate in political sciences but all that wasn't his destiny as it turned out.
The destiny connected Emilio Pucci and Toni Frissell who photographed him for Harper's Bazaar, one afternoon in 1947, when people of magazine learned that Emilio designed his clothes himself. They asked him to expand his design to women's winter clothes.
He did that, Bazaar published it, his pieces hit the New York stores and Emilio discovered his purpose. It was meant for him to change the dull and grey world and to make the post-war world full of colours and joy.
From the every day fashion to dress of pilots, the world needed a little bit of colour. Emilio Pucci opened a store in 1949 and it didn't take long for Emilio to interweave Mediterranean colors and modern fabrics into relaxed pieces with psychedelic colors and easy to maintain. In 1950's the world was ready for light dresses made of silk, contrasting contemporary fashion both in colors and materials.
Emilio Pucci used silk jersey that the girls and women embraced at the dawn of hippie culture. That remains the main characteristics of Pucci design until today: psychedelic colours, swirled design and light materials. And it seems that style will live for many years to come.
Although Emilio Pucci is the father of coloured swirls, as the true designer he didn't stop at "chic feminine" style. He designed scarves, pyjamas, stewardess uniforms, even and "bubble helmet", a piece of plastic that protected the hair of the flight attendants from the rain. That was obviously not enough, so Emilio Pucci designed three birds that found their place on the sign of Apollo 15 mission.
Emilio Pucci di Barsento died in 1992, hippie somewhat earlier, but coloured swirls still live. The company changed several chief designers and the names such as Christian LaCroix and Julio Espada speaks about the greatness of the company.
Emilio's daughter Laudomia lead the company until 2000 when the Louis Vuitton-Moet-Hennessy Group bought it, in 2006 Matthew Williamson replaced Mr. Lacroix as creative director while Laudomia continued as the Image Director.
Although there were some co production with other houses, such as partnerships with Ermenegildo Zegna and Sony, the bright colourful woman's dress it the heart of every Pucci collection. There must be some magic in a little dress that was popular 50 years ago and still is. We can talk about lines, collections, design, fabric, and pop-culture, but I think the answer is much more simpler. Emilio Pucci captured the colours of the Mediterranean sunrise and gave to the world. ■