Visions Of Pucci Dancing In My Head
by Glynis Ward
My love affair with Emilio Pucci's designs began sometime in the early 1980s. One lucky summer day, I stumbled upon a church sale where I found a perfect silk Pucci blouse for a mere 25 cents. The designs and colors were reminiscent of all my non-designer 60ís psychedelic clothing, yet the absolute vibrancy of the blouse was unique. It seemed alive.
Gradually, I learned that Pucci was the "grand daddy" of all the colorful clothes I adored. The ethnic-oriented geometric patterns of '50s and '60s Pucci design became the blueprint for the wildly patterned, day-glo ready-to-wear fabrics of the later '60s. Pucci grew to be as influential to '60s design as Mary Quant's mini-skirt.
Post-war couture was ruled by the French whose highly constructed and formal designs purposely allowed for little movement. Stiff fabrics were molded into garments befitting a woman who spent most of her time socializing in formal settings. Pucci knocked down the constraints of tailored women's wear by creating a completely new type of sportswear which was elegant and practical. A married man, Pucci made clothing which would be worn by women like his wife, a young and energetic person who enjoyed a variety of activities. He wanted to foster a more natural female shape and fashion style that matched a more free lifestyle. Freedom of movement required more flexible textiles and so Pucci became involved in textile manufacturing. His fabrics were as innovative as his techniques for printing color upon them.
Pucci's first designs appeared in the late '40s, which was an experimental period for him. Previously a pilot in the Italian airforce, Pucci had no experience in design or clothing manufacturing. His first line consisted of a few pieces of ski wear for women. During the '50s, Pucci began to experiment with knits. His clothing became even more free flowing when designed of very lightweight silk knits which became the predominant type of fabric. A few garments were manufactured in velvet, which are now quite difficult to find and highly sought out. Even fewer were made from cotton.
At a fashion show in 1951, Pucci met Stanley Marcus of the Neiman-Marcus department store and formed his first alliance with a major distributor of his clothing. In less than four years, Pucci had gone from selling his clothing in his boutique on the Isle of Capri (and making all of the clothing in his own home) to major manufacturing. Incredibly, Pucci's designs, styles and fabrics were kept to an incredibly high quality, and he oversaw all manner of his production houses. His clothing was more loved by Americans than Europeans and soon every major department store in the US carried Pucci.
In 1960, Formfit Rogers began manufacturing lines of extremely progressive Pucci lingerie which was lighter, and less foundation-oriented than anything that had been manufactured before. Every item was designed with the same attitude to freedom of movement as well as the aesthetic of beauty. 1962 saw the beginnings of the most famous, all-over geometric patterns, which are most prevalent in the lingerie lines and silk knits. Other designers began to adapt the same design principals in cut, fabric and pattern but nobody ever duplicated the exact beauty of Pucci. Still, by the late '60s there was little in the way of innovation left for Emilio Pucci. His ideas towards women's wear had been adapted so successfully that virtually every woman wore flattering sportswear.
Still popular in the early '70s for his leisure items, Pucci focused on unique pattern and design bringing in florals and pastels. By the mid-'70s wild prints were passe, and so was Emilio Pucci. During the mid '80s, Pucci once again became vogue: his early clothing became desirable again, pieces were displayed in museums, and his current designs began to appear in fashion magazines. Working with his daughter Laudomia (who took over the design house upon her fathers death in 1992), Pucci once again built up a presence in the fashion world. Laudomia still maintains the fashion house.
Currently, vintage Pucci clothing is very collectible. His fashions are popular for the same reasons as they originally were - as a sign of wealth and social status, and for the ultimate quality of each piece. Below is a list of various items that Pucci designed.
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