Emilio Pucci

Tonie Ong

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Emilio Pucci Collection

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In the fashion industry, a key ingredient for a brand to guarantee longevity and success is a good signature. If a label has that identifiable piece, detail, garment, or even just its logo, then chances are a lot of people will remember it, even if they don’t a buy a piece from them. A lot of the most prominent fashion house and luxury good brands have their own key signatures. Chanel has their famous suit, Dior has the “New Look” silhouette, Louis Vuitton has their infinitely-copied monogram, and Gucci has their tri-colored stripes. For the house of Emilio Pucci, however, it’s a bit of a different story. Their signature is not as permanent as a suit or a logo, because their signatures are their colorful prints.

Just by hearing the name Pucci, one might already think of the cooky and quirky prints the house let out during the 70’s. The brand’s exuberant roster of psychedelic patterns and shapes inadvertently defined the disco fever in Europe during that decade. The company founded a look that was unapologetically glamorous, and while for some may be a bit tacky, its luxuriousness cannot be denied. They helped propel this notion of wearing one’s wealth, forgoing the old age principle of subdued elegance that dominated the industry at the time.

The Label’s History

The company was founded by Marquis of Barsento, Emilio Pucci, back in 1951. Four years prior, in 1947, he designed a ski ensemble of tapered pants and a hooded parka, which was photographed by photographer Toni Frissell. Such was the prominence of that photograph that he decided to open his own label, specializing in sportswear luxe, becoming the first brand to do so. He presented his collections at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, which at that time was one Italy’s fashion capitals. His clothes were instantly met with critical acclaim and commercial success, becoming the hottest new designer in the whole of Europe.

In 1953, he started incorporating bold colors and psychedelic prints in his designs, giving birth to what would be his house’s signature aesthetic. Soon, the whole world went gaga over his extravagant designs, which completely deviated from the more neutral-toned offerings of other fashion houses. Due to the success of his ready-to-wear line, Pucci expanded his namesake business to include leather goods, fragrances, accessories, and even bed linens. Whatever product that carried his name, it was sure to be as eye-catching as his designs. He led his own company until 1992 when he passed away at age 78. His son Laudomia carried the reins of the house until 2000 when the company was bought by LVMH, the largest luxury holdings group in the world.

Creative Directorship through the Years

Like many houses established in the 20th century, the brand was kept alive by a series of creative directors, all giving their own spin to the Pucci legacy. One of the more prominent ones was French couturier Christian Lacroix, who continued the founder’s tradition of presenting dresses and gowns in crazy prints. His tenure was bright and colorful, generally reflecting the house codes. Another prominent designer who took the helm at the house was Peter Dundas, arguably the most successful out of all them. He created a new look beyond the prints and gave the Pucci woman a cooler, urbaner and more bohemian look, catching the eye of numerous younger clients. Dundas exited the house in 2015.

Muses and Clients

Throughout the years, the Pucci woman was personified by a number of famous faces, some have become icons today. One of the first most famous women to wear Pucci was Marilyn Monroe, who wore a peacock-printed dress around the late 50’s and early 60’s. In the 70’s, the decade’s most prominent muses, such as Jerry Hall, Marisa Berenson, and Verushka were heavily featured in magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and L’officiel wearing Pucci. Such were the cases of the supermodels of the 80’s and 90’s as well, with the likes of Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell even walking the brand’s shows during Fashion Week.

When Peter Dundas came on board in 2009, he changed the Pucci woman to become a younger and freer individual, catching the eye of A-list starlets in Hollywood. The likes of Beyonce, Sienna Miller, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Taylor Swift, and Miley Cyrus were wearing Pucci countless times, whether be it on tour (for the singers), on screen (for the actresses), or simply on the red carpet. The models Dundas chose were also a lot fiercer and sexier, like his Russian muse Natasha Poly and Brazilian bombshell Izabel Goulart. During his tenure, Dundas revolutionized the Pucci woman from disco diva to hardcore glamazon.

The Brand Today

The company still stands today as a representation of old-school Italian glamour, rivaling the likes of Versace and Dolce and Gabbana. With the help of LVMH, the brand expanded tenfold and is sold worldwide through prominent retailers and department stores. In 2012, its revenue reached €60.1 million.

After all these years, the house of Pucci remains to be one of the most prominent luxury labels in the fashion world. To this day, the house still specializes in bold colors and psychedelic prints, emphasizing that the look that once defined a decade has become timeless.

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