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Pucci, Emilio

award fashion designed women

B. November 20, 1914

D. November 29, 1992

Birthplace: Naples, Italy

Awards: Nieman-Marcus Award, 1954, 1967
         Sports Illustrated Award, 1955, 1961
         Burdine Fashion Award, 1955
         Sunday Times Award, London, 1963
         Association of Industrial Design Award, Milan, 1968
         Drexel University Award, 1975
         Italy-Austria Award, 1977
         Knighthood, Rome, 1982
         Medaille de la Ville de Paris, 1985
         Council of Fashion Designers of America Award, 1990
         Fashion Excellence Award, Dallas Fashion Awards, 2000

While many fashion designers draw inspiration from historic periods such as the Renaissance, few can trace their ancestry to that extraordinary time. Emilio Pucci, born Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento, has a lineage that dates to thirteenth-century Florence when his ancestors were painted by such artists as Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. Pucci, an Italian nobleman, attended the University of Milan (1933–1935) to study agriculture, the University of Georgia (1935–1936) to study animal husbandry, Reed College (1936–1937) to complete a master’s of art in social science, and the University of Florence to complete a Ph.D. in political science (1941).

A passion for skiing first brought Pucci into the fashion realm. He designed his own uniform to wear as a member of the 1934 Italian Olympic ski team, and at Reed College he designed uniforms for his entire ski team. These early forays into fashion design landed Pucci a position designing women’s ski clothing for Lord and Taylor in 1948 under the White Stag label. Two years later, he opened his own couture house with boutiques across Italy and in New York. The ski pants he designed became the original “Capri” pant. Coco Chanel was the first to introduce pants for women in the 1930s, but Pucci made pants a way of life for women in the 1950s. The Capri pant was the antithesis to Christian Dior’s constructed New Look. This sporty casual wear complemented the American woman’s new lifestyle. By 1951 Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Fields, and Neiman Marcus were ordering large quantities of Pucci’s Capri pants, and a sportswear revolution was born.

It is for fabric designs, though, that Pucci became world renowned. Drawing on heraldic banners, nature, architecture, and his world travels, Pucci developed multicolored printed fabrics in geometric and organic patterns. His initial designs placed spaced motifs on solid grounds, but his style quickly evolved into intricately patterned, allover designs featuring up to fifteen different colors. The textile designs were an immediate success. They mirrored the Pop Art of the 1960s, and women became walking canvases in swirls of blue, magenta, gold, acid green, and pink. Pucci popularized bright colors for the first time since World War II and made his canvases into short, sexy, clingy clothes for women. His timing was perfect. Women’s roles in society were changing, and women were looking for clothing to reflect these changes. The bright, wild prints were constructed into simple silhouettes for dresses, shirts, and sportswear which provided comfortable and practical clothing for the new, active woman. Members of the prosperous American middle class, who sought readily identifiable status symbols, became Pucci’s biggest clients, and his tights and silk scarves allowed woman of all classes to own a Pucci. At the peak of his popularity, in the mid-1960s, Pucci was exporting over $1.5 billion a year in apparel products to fifty-nine countries around the world.

Pucci was constantly expanding his business to include new home-furnishing, accessory, and intimate-apparel products. He designed men’s shirts, pants, ties, and handkerchiefs, as well as suits lined with his signature prints. In 1967 he designed sheets and towels for Spring Mills. During the 1960s, he launched his own perfumes, Vivara, Zadig, and Signor Pucci, and he became the vice president and designer of intimate apparel for Formfit International. He also developed an elasticized silk shantung fabric manufactured by Trabaldo in the 1960s. He was commissioned to design uniforms for Braniff International Airlines in 1965, uniforms for Qantas Airways in 1974, ceramic vases and dinnerware for Rosenthal China from 1961 to 1977, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV in 1977, a Vespa motorcycle for Fiat in 1977, and candy wrappers with matching scarves for Perugina in the late 1970s. In 1971 he completed his most prestigious commission: designing the emblem for the Apollo 15 Space Mission.

Pucci fabrics may be the most widely copied fashion item ever, something the Pucci family finds both flattering and frustrating. They appear across all price points and throughout all product categories; they are a global phenomenon. After two decades of astonishing success, an oversaturated market, combined with a shift to tailored garments and the popularity of jeans, reduced Pucci to the periphery of fashion in the late 1970s. However, a Pucci Renaissance began in the late-1980s and early 1990s when neon colors and body-conscious fashions became popular. Lycra-clad aerobic classes vibrated with Pucci prints, and the miniskirts of the New Wave music craze were often paired with tights that resonated “Pucci.”

Under the creative direction of Pucci’s daughter, Laudomia, the Pucci label continues to produce a limited range of products through licensing agreements. In the late 1990s Laudomia brought a series of designers to the House of Pucci, including Stephan Janson and Antonio Berardi, to redevelop the men’s and women’s collection. However, it was not until 2000 when Pucci was purchased by Moët Hennessey-Louis Vuitton (LVMH) that the Pucci label had the financial backing necessary to mount a full-scale relaunch of the collections. LVMH retained Laudomia Pucci as image director for the house but hired designer Julio Espada to provide the new creative direction. Espada, born in Puerto Rico, formerly designed for Perry Ellis and Esprit. As the new head designer, Espada was charged with the daunting task of reinterpreting the classic, jet-setting Pucci look for today’s market.

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over 5 years ago

Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you kindly to correct your serious historical error in your article. Pucci JUST SOLD the invention of SONJA DE LENNART ten years after its invention in 1948. Sonja de Lennart is the original inventor of the Original Capri. Pucci confirmed this fact toward New York Times, see documents.

Thank you and please confirm that you will correct this damaging error, which would be also a trademark violation.

Dr. De Lennart