But for Emilio, there wouldn’t have been the Capri Pants!
Emilio Pucci di Barsento, “Prince of Prints,” was born in Naples in1914. He moved to the University of Georgia for further studies after spending two years at the Milan University.
He was a member of the Olympic ski team for Italy in 1934. He won a scholarship for skiing in 1937 to the Reed College in Oregon. Here, he majored in social sciences and two years later received his MA in 1939. His first venture in designing was by designing uniforms for a ski team. Though born into an aristocratic family he was the first to work in about 1000 years. Every work of his was signed by him as ‘Emilio.’
The Creator and his Creations
As a high school student itself he was a keen sportsman. In 1947, after the Second World War, he was photographed wearing a ski pants that were designed by him. Toni Frissell photographed him on the Italian ski slopes. Drawn by the beauty and style, a popular magazine requested him to design some clothes for women that could be used in winter. The designs were published by the same magazine and this enabled him to make an enormous sale of his collection in many stores in New York.
Pucci opened a boutique in 1949 in Capri that sold wide range of interesting items. It is here that he introduced the famous ‘Capri Pants’ that stormed the world.
His first fashion show was held in Florence in 1951. He had a special liking and reputation for vividly colored sporting and relaxed daywear. His dresses were mostly of silk jersey that was light weight, wrinkle free and very comfortable. ‘It is like wearing nothing at all,’ exclaimed Diana Vreeland on these clothes.
Emilio Pucci married Cristina Nannini in 1959. The same year, their daughter Alessandra was born. In 1961, their second daughter Laudomia was born. As homage to Jacqueline Kennedy, his first haute couture collection was displayed in 1962.
Tapered trousers, shorts, Capri pants, resort dresses, shirts, silk blouses, casual suits and slacks etc were produced in the 60’s. A range of other items like under wears, swim wears and sweaters were also produced in the same season for the US manufacturers. Well defined prints and vivid colors were his signature on the clothes he designed and these led way for a color rich revolution.
Pucci’s designs reached even stranger places. Pucci designed a flag for planting on the moon. It was carried by the Apollo 15 space crew. He also designed the Lincoln Continental Mark IV for the Ford Motor Company.
Pucci the Man
Pucci was active politically also. In 1970, he was elected to the Italian Parliament. His interests were as diverse as his prints and colors. His family owned an estate in Chianti from as early as the 13th century. This enabled him to produce and sell wine under his label.
Even as a Member of Parliament, Jack Tinker and Associates hired Pucci for their New York ad agency to re-design the hostess wardrobes for Braniff International Airways. Pucci gave about seven unique outfits for Braniff pilots, hostesses and ground crew in twelve years. Pucci also included Alexander Girard’s “BI” logo onto some of his designs.
There was a sudden increase in the demands for the Pucci prints. The period from 1989-1990 saw a heavy boom. Celebrities like Paloma Picasso and Madonna were photographed wearing clothes designed by him.
In about 1990, Emilio quit from active designing. His daughter received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award on behalf of her father in 1991 in New York. In the subsequent year, many of his famous costumes were displayed in the Palazzo Pitti Costume Museum in Florence.
At the age of 78, in 1992, he died. Marchese Alessandro Pucci di Barsento, his son who was then 30 years old, took over the family business and estate related duties. Sad to remember, Alessandro died in a car accident in 2000 somewhere near Florence, Italy. Then for sometime his sister Laudomia looked after the designing section.
Pucci the Brand
All the clothes designed by Emilio Pucci over the years are treasured immensely and classic gowns are still considered as invaluable possessions. Exhibitions continuously happen to uphold the tradition that was brought forth by him. One of the major exhibitions was held in 1997 at the Kent State University and had a very good audience.
For several years the Pucci revival gathered momentum. The family began introducing new products to appease new fans. The company also began selling luxury goods to conglomerate LVMH who owned Givenchy, Dior and many other business houses.
The LVMH president Arnault in November 2000, asked a designer Julio Espada from Puerto Rican to reconceive the Pucci collection. He in his Spring 2002 collection, displayed plenty of beautiful girls wearing scarves, shorts and short crisp cotton dresses. Espada bid adieu to Pucci in 2002. Later a furniture collection was also introduced by Pucci.
Pucci lives on under the able guidance of his daughter Laudomia Pucci who is also the image director for the fashion house. Many significant collections like that of Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright and the Museum’s own all-inclusive collection display the imagination and style of this special designer.
Not only in fashion, Pucci was also well-known and respected as a facist. He had also written quite a few articles in support of this subject. His name continues to dress up the style conscious through his daughter Laudomia Pucci, who continues to design under the Pucci brand name.
The French firm Louis Vuitton-Moet-Hennessy Group has revived the Pucci brand and acquired the rights in 2000. Famous workers who have worked for the Pucci brand include Christian LaCroix and Julio Espada. The British designer, Matthew Williamson replaced LaCroix as creative director in 2006 and Laudomia Pucci still serves as the Image Director there.
For many, success is a mirage but for a few like Emilio Pucci, it is a dream come true!
Text by: Ultimate Italy