PUCCI! | KENT STATE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM | Kent State University

PUCCI!

Mull Gallery | Anne Bissonnette, Curator

Shirley Kennedy in her book, Pucci: A Renaissance in Fashion, portrays the designer as an innovative and a dynamic force in the fashion world of the fifties and sixties. Explosive and joyful in both colors and patterns, "Puccis" revolutionized the field of textile design and contributed to changing the face of fashion. In the public eye for over two decades, a longevity that was no small feat in itself, part of the energetic appeal of the garments resided in their comfort and modernity.

Born into a noble Italian family in 1914, Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento was destined for a life of service in politics and diplomatic circles. Prior to obtaining a Ph.D. in political science, he was a member of the 1934 Italian Olympic ski team. A year later he won a skiing scholarship to Reed College in Oregon where he first ventured into design by creating the ski team's uniform. Unsurprisingly, it was on the ski slopes of St-Moritz in 1947 that the first Puccis were sighted by Harper's Bazaar fashion photographer Toni Frissell. When Diana Vreeland of the editorial staff saw the shots, she asked the Marchese to design a small group of ski clothes to sell in the United States. The jet-setter's life took on a new twist when Lord & Taylor department store bought his line and established a lasting association.

The first member of the Pucci family to work in a thousand years, he spared his family's honor upon entering the clothing business by signing his work with a simple "Emilio". He opened his first boutique in trendy Capri in 1949 and started producing finely drawn and brightly printed scarves and shirts. He later established his business headquarters in his family's ancestral palazzo in the heart of Florence. After his death in 1992, it still remains in operation.

At a time when French couture was highly constrictive and structured, Pucci's silk-jersey dresses, first created in 1954, were light-weight (only 3 to 4 ounces), wrinkle free and supremely comfortable. Identifiable at a glance with 60's pop culture, Pucci's fashions were in fact the forerunners of a generation of active sportswear synonymous with style and status.