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Emilio Pucci's Brand Story and Comeback
Emilio Pucci Spring 2005 Runway

Emilio Pucci's Brand Story and Comeback

Words by Georgia Gordon

Emilio Pucci has seen a recent revival. A brand collaboration with streetwear giants Supreme has currently brought the brand back into the fore and seen vintage Emilio Pucci pieces skyrocket in value and desirability. The brand's instantly recognisable statement prints appeal to consumers in a post-monogram era. 2000S era Emilio Pucci, designed by Christian Lacroix are some of the most popular styles, continuing on from the Y2k trend. Emilio Pucci has been recently worn by the likes of Cardi B, Lily Rose Depp and Kylie Jenner. 

Bella Hadid, Lily Rose Depp, Kylie Jenner and Anastasia Karanikolaou in Emilio Pucci

 

The brand itself was founded in 1947 by Emilio Pucci, who came from one of Florence's oldest aristocratic families.  Pucci studied an MA in social sciences as well as a doctorate in political science. He was an avid lover of many sports including swimming, tennis and skiing and even travelled to New York aged 17 with the Italian team for the 1932 Winter Olympics. In 1938, he joined the Italian air force and fought as an SM.79 torpedo bomber pilot in World War II. During WWII, Pucci befriended Mussolini’s daughter Edda and attempted to help save her husband, Galeazzo Ciano’s, life after he was put on trial for playing a part in overthrowing Mussolini. After Hitler put a stop to their plans, Pucci helped Edda to escape to Switzerland and delivered the last letters she had written making her final plea to Hitler, Mussolini and General Wilhelm Harster to save her husband. After delivering these letters and attempting to make his own escape, Pucci was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo in an attempt to extract information. Unfortunately, despite their best attempts, Ciano was still killed but Pucci managed to escape to Switzerland where he stayed until the war ended.

Three years prior to joining the air force, Pucci was awarded a scholarship at Reed, at which he was asked to develop a college ski team. Pucci created his first ever designs for the Reed College ski team, making them beautiful and unique skiwear. It wasn’t until 1947, however, that his designs were noticed when they were photographed by Toni Frissell. Frissell was working for Harper’s Bazaar at the time and upon seeing the photographs, his editor had Pucci design skiwear for a European Winter Fashion story that featured in Bazaar’s 1948 Winter issue. Incredibly enough, Pucci was the first ever person to design a one-piece ski suit. His chic designs had him noticed by many, including several manufacturers in the USA who wanted to produce them for him. Pucci turned them down and instead left the Italian Air Force to set up his haute couture house that is still going strong today. Setting up his label on the fashionable Isle of Capri, Pucci started out by designing swimwear but quickly expanded his range to include silk scarves that would feature his much loved, brightly coloured prints. It wasn’t until Stanley Marcus (of Neiman Marcus) suggested it that Pucci used those same patterns and prints on clothing like shirts and dresses. His first ever show was shown in 1950 in Italy and not long after, he was able to add a second boutique in Rome thanks to his success. In 1959, Pucci travelled to Chicago to add lingerie to his repetoire, working with Formfit-Rogers. Thanks to his success, Pucci was made vice-president of design and merchandising for the company not long after. 

In 1959, Pucci married Christina Nannini and the couple had two children together, Alessandro and Laudomia. In 1965, Pucci was hired to design outfits for the cabin crew of Braniff International Airways. The campaign was dubbed “The End of the Plain Plane” and the designs Pucci created were so popular that they were used for a 1968 Barbie doll. The uniform comprised of multiple pieces with the intention of being added or removed based on the weather outside. Among these pieces was a “Space Helmet” as Pucci called it, which was a clear plastic hood designed to be worn by flight crew from the airplane to the terminal to protect their hair and makeup from the weather and jet engines outside . Pucci even designed the three bird logo for the Apollo 15 mission uniform patch. Initially designing them in blues and greens, the crew changed Pucci’s design slightly by making the birds red, white and blue to appear more patriotic.

Emilio Pucci Spring 2002

After Pucci’s death in 1992, his daughter Laudomia Pucci took over as creative director before LVMH purchased 67% of the brand in 2000. Laudomia stepped down to Image Director and a series of designers followed to take over at the helm, including Christian Lacroix (2002-2005), Matthew Williamson (2005-2008) and Peter Dundas (2009-2015) to name a few. After Dundas’ departure, Massimo Giorgetti took over but left in 2017 with no one taking over as creative director since. Sadly, with the brand stuck in its past, no one has been able to take it to the next level. The internal design team has been creating the runway collections since Giorgetti’s departure. In 2020, Pucci decided to take on guest collaborators, following a model similar to Italian brand Moncler’s Genius Project to try to revive itself. In 2020, the brand took on Christelle Kocher of Koché, followed by Tomotaka Koizumi later in the year. It was recently announced that the brand is now fully owned by LVMH, who acquired the final 33% of the stakes. It will be interesting to see where the brand goes from here and whether or not it can bring itself back from the lull it has been in over the last 5 years.

Shop a selection of vintage Emilio Pucci pieces online at Irvrsbl or read through our other fashion articles here.