I confess that I have two very different yet complimentary design sensibilities–I absolutely adore black, structured and fitted clothing and accessories, but I equally love bold, bright colours, especially translated into unique and eye-catching prints. It may come as a surprise that this Goth At Heart’s favourite fashion designer is Emilio Pucci, known for his bright, organic, psychedelic patterns and often seemingly unconventional colour schemes. He’s been a big influence to me and my husband, Oli Goldsmith who also is a lover of Textile, Pattern and Unusual Colour Palettes.
Though synonymous with the 1960s, Pucci’s designs remain popular with celebrities and the jet-set as they are elegant, up-beat, confident and care-free and tend to flatter a variety of body types. Many of the designs are truly classic and very versatile–think Little Black Dress with amplified personality. Frankly, about the only place a typical Pucci dress wouldn’t be appropriate for is a funeral!
The story of Emilio Pucci is very interesting and a little ironic. Born into prominent Florentine aristocracy in 1914, young Emilio was an accomplished athlete and an especially avid skier, winning a scholarship for his aptitude. He studied Agriculture, and Political and Social Sciences and served as a Pilot in World War 2 before deciding to pursue a career in Fashion Design. Due to his family connections with Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini, Pucci was captured by the Nazis and was tortured by them to obtain political information.
Especially interested in the properties of fabric and dye from both Scientific and Aesthetic perspectives, Pucci was particularly interested in designing Ski Wear and his designs began to receive world wide acclaim when one of his designs that was made for a personal friend was photographed on the ski slopes by Harper’s Bazaar in 1947. The Pucci brand soon developed swimsuits, scarves and dresses in particular, all maintaining a sensitivity to the fabric used. Style icons such as Jackie Kennedy, Sophia Loren, and most notably Marilyn Monroe, who was buried in a Pucci dress, helped to propel the brand. Pucci designed revolutionary Air Crew Uniforms for Braniff Airlines in the mid 1960s, and even designed clothing for Barbie!
Pucci’s inspiration was taken from daily life, presumably the sunset over water, raindrops on wood, the sun peeking thru branches, romantic architecture and plant life. There’s also something musical about his compositions as well that is absolutely captivating. He purportedly took many photos and drew his palettes from these, often assisting the fabric printers in executing these palettes to his liking. It is evident that he was truly passionate about his designs! A true Colour Genius, Pucci apparently could create beautiful, complicated colour palettes and compositions for 100 scarves in an hour!
When Pucci passed away in 1992, his daughter took the reigns of the brand and the Pucci brand has continued to gain fans and acclaim. There are gorgeous Pucci shoes, purses, men’s ties, house wares, jewellery and even rain boots.
Aside from being delighted by the slightly eccentric, playful, gently bold patterns typical of Pucci designs, I’m a huge fan of the materiality of them–the fabric is beautiful! While synthetic materials such as rayon are sometimes used, the majority of the designs focus on stretchy silk jerseys and wools–they are meant to breathe, move with the body and be comfortable to wear while flattering the form and delighting the eye. The organic patterns of the fabric tends to enhance the female form–Pucci dresses are especially stunning on curvier women. These are truly feel-good clothes! And that to me is the most important thing about Fashion Design and design in general.