The Marquis of Barsento, Emilio Pucci, was brought forth by one of Florence’s oldest families in 1914 and became a fashion phenomenon in the 50s with a trailblazing vision that remains reverberating today.
Despite giving up a private life of aristocratic leisure, Pucci was dubbed “The Prince of Prints” by the worldwide fashion press, who were enamored with his bold, fresh designs and daring approach to fashion at the time. The Marquis’ legacy remains a significant force behind the birth of the “Made in Italy” style and a milestone in Italy’s sportswear idea, making him a significant influence in contemporary fashion.
Learn more about the history and style of Emilio Pucci below and the enduring style of Elizabeth Taylor next.
History: Education and Early Career
Pucci, raised in a rigorous aristocratic milieu, turned out to be a professional and personal rebel. After attending the University of Georgia and Reed College, he earned a doctorate in political science from the Università di Firenze in 1941. However, his choice to study in the United States exposed him to the American way of life.
Pucci’s fashion career began with his skiing ability. In 1934, he was a part of the Italian Olympic skiing team, and in 1937, he attended Reed College on a skiing scholarship.
Toni Frissell photographed Pucci and his female acquaintances in Zermatt, Switzerland, in 1947, wearing colorful, form-fitting, yet functional ski attire made by Pucci. These images were given to Lord and Taylor’s head buyer, Marjorie Griswold, and Harper’s Bazaar’s fashion editor, the famed Diana Vreeland.
The images appeared in Bazaar’s December 1948 issue, and several Pucci models were commissioned for Lord and Taylor’s New York store. Pucci’s first retail success in the US came with this order.
However, Pucci required greater financial stability following World War II. He launched a boutique in Capri, Italy, in 1949, where he sold the tapered pants that became famous as Capri pants and beautiful silk blouses designed to show off the female shape. With the restoration of peace, people began to travel for enjoyment once more.
Pucci correctly predicted that his boutique, Emilio of Capri, and casual, colorful resort clothing would be popular with the newcomers. International aristocrats such as Mona Harrison von Bismarck, Consuelo Crespi, and Maxime de la Falaise frequented Emilio of Capri.
Pucci was described as “divinely Italian” by Diana Vreeland. Although it was exceedingly unusual for an aristocrat to operate a store and work as a dressmaker or designer at the time, Pucci adored the creative process.
The Style of Emilio Pucci
The Original Design Concept
Emilio’s comprehensive approach to fashion was most visible in his seductive women’s designs. They let the body’s natural curves flow naturally with the piece.
Pucci introduced a wrinkle-free, very lightweight silk jersey that could be easily rolled up and packed—a feature that a growing number of jet-set travelers appreciate. He created nonrestrictive clothes that were both modern and glamorous, thanks to technologically advanced fabrics. Pucci also debuted an exciting color palette, boldly combining tangerine and fuchsia, espresso and azure, plum, lime and turquoise, and various other colors.
His innovations established a distinctive aesthetic that could transport any woman from day to night with little more than a change of accessories. After showcasing only a few of his collections to buyers and the international press in Florence in 1951, Emilio Pucci went on to make a name for himself by developing couture style – each piece more stunning than the last.
As a colorist, the designer was unrivaled, from high-rolling jet-set day wear to coastal cocktail party gowns and even lifestyle characteristic accessories. Emilio Pucci developed a couture approach by creating breathtaking color landscapes inspired primarily by his life in the Mediterranean (minus the staggering price tag). This complete design philosophy is what has made the brand so well-known.
He was not, however, limited to fashion. Pucci’s artistic vision expanded beyond lingerie and clothes to perfumes, eyeglasses, and even interior design. He also created logos for space missions, uniforms, and luxury autos.
Pucci produced his prints in addition to developing elegant designs that allowed for effortless movement, employing packable fabrics in an array of bright colors, and insisting on high-quality artistry.
Pucci’s Signature Style
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Emilio Pucci began creating his characteristic prints in the 1950s. Pucci developed abstract designs and graphics inspired by the world around him, including geometric patterns incorporating themes in Sicilian mosaics, Bali Batiks, heraldic banners, and African motifs. This kind of work earned him the title “Prince of Prints.”
His prints were made with a distinct color infusion pattern, resulting in a style that is instantly recognizable as Pucci even today. The “Made in Italy” luxury styles began with dynamic color and expressive use of geometric designs. The fashion footprint may be found everywhere, from everyday life to the runway.
Emilio Pucci was one of the first fashion designers to establish a distinct characteristic style and a high-status label. He was a forerunner in diversification, paving the path for global fashion licensing.
He created a wide range of items, from perfumes to accessories such as handbags, sunglasses, scarves, shoes, tights, and lingerie, manufactured by the American company Formfit Rogers. Pucci even created the interior of a car for a special version of the Lincoln Continental Mark IV in 1977.
Pucci oversaw the design of all his items personally. He created seductive, colorful, and futuristic costumes for Braniff Airways flight attendants in 1965 and Qantas Airways in 1974.
He also found time to design clothing for Barbie dolls and uniforms for Florence’s policewomen. Pucci was particularly pleased to design the mission patch for the Apollo 15 space mission in 1971.
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Emilio Pucci’s designs mix clean lines with the thrill of color. He preferred fluid, elastomeric textiles like the Emilioform jersey, allowing complete freedom of use and mobility.
The Marilyn dress, beloved by the actress and achieved international acclaim, was created for the smart woman on the run. It was only a matter of rolling it up and packing it: it was the modern spirit-made dress, built for globetrotters on the go. The concept of the first leggings, caftans, palazzo pajamas, and foulard shirts was equally dynamic and inventive.
Emilio Pucci remains the same today when he first envisioned brilliantly colored couture collections and ready-to-wear fashions. However, the pioneering company now offers garments, leather products, wallets, sunglasses, beachwear, footwear, and silk accessories.
Co-branding with Veuve Clicquot and Guerlain and partnerships with Rossignol, Parfums Luxe, Wolford, and Bisazza made an impression on the industry. Even today, the general force of the “Made in Italy” aesthetic can be seen across Pucci’s luxury sportswear and other fashion pieces.