Emilio Pucci: Prince of Prints

Prints with panache; prints that defined the 1960s, still much sought after today; prints: bold, organic and unmistakable. That is the legacy of Emilio Pucci.

Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsanto was born in 1914 into a noble Florentine family. Educated in Italy and The United States, he studied communications at the University of Bologna and earned a doctorate in political science.

A member of the Italian Olympic ski team (1934,) Pucci began his designing career by designing ski clothes. In St. Moritz, when asked to pose in his ski clothes by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, the editor, Diana Vreeland, was amazed to learn the he had designed the outfit himself. She asked for more designs to sell in The United States. Shortly thereafter, Lord and Taylor department store bought his line, a move that led to a long association. He set up his design studio in his family’s 15th century palazzo (palace) in Florence. The first member of his family to work in a thousand years, he spared his family’s vanity by signing his designs, simply “Emilio.” He opened his first boutique on the isle of Capri in 1949 and designed his famous “capri pants,” now a fashion staple. In 1950, he launched his own couture collection.

Pucci prints, modern versions of classic Florentine designs, are easily identifiable. His use of newly created stretch fabrics, further defined his work. He is known for his “palazzo pants,”- print, casual, patio, pants – and his jersey dress, useful in its ability to fold into a small packet for travel.

Emilio Pucci, nicknamed “the King of Casual Couture,” has dressed some of the world’s most famous women. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor have all favored Pucci. More recently, Jennifer Lopez, Nicky Hilton, and Isabelle Rosellini are all fans.

M. Pucci did not limit himself to fashion design. He is known for his popular 1977 Lincoln Continental design as well as his Braniff and Quantas Airlines uniforms of the mid 60s.

He did not limit himself to fashion. Pucci was a member of the Italian air force during World War II and in 1965, he was elected to Italy’s house of Parliament.

The House of Pucci, today, is owned by the French conglomerate, LMVH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey.) Since 2000, under the artistic direction of French designer, Christian LaCroix, Pucci has returned to its origins with emphasis on the designs and prints of the 1960s. The Pucci empire includes eveningwear, swimwear, ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes, and, of course, couture. In 2004, Pucci returned to its ski roots by teaming with Rossignol to design a line of ski apparel.

Pucci’s designs are featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Emilio Pucci died in 1992 at the age of 78. His fashion designs, however, live on.

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