Post World War II Innovations

The next phase of Pucci's career began at the first fashion show of Italian designers, which was organized by Giovanni Battista Giorgini in 1951 and held in the Sala Bianca at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Other designers who presented their work at the show included Simon-etta, the Fontana sisters, Alberto Fabiani, and Emilio Schuberth. Major American stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue sent their buyers, who brought Italian, postwar, ready-to-wear fashion back across the Atlantic. Pucci's sleek, lightweight T-shirts, jersey dresses, silk shirts, and tapered pants made for an exciting new style.

Once the original and somewhat daring look of Pucci's designs appeared in the top U.S. stores, he was on the way to celebrity-designer status. Pucci won the coveted Neiman Marcus Award in 1954. He won the award a second time in 1967. Marcus, the head of the Dallas-based store, said, "Postwar fashion was hungry for a color explosion and [Pucci's] exotic, vivid color combinations were timed to perfection" (Kennedy, p. 67). Mar-jorie Griswold, Pucci's major retail supporter, had already suggested that he sign his name in script within the print design because the motifs themselves could be copied. Hence, the authenticity of a Pucci garment can be verified when the signature "Emilio" is visible throughout the print. Pucci used his first name rather than his family name because it was considered shocking for a member of the Italian nobility to work as a dressmaker or tradesman instead of a diplomat or politician. He said, "I am the first member of my family to work in a thousand years" (Kennedy, p. 42).

Pucci introduced a very lightweight, wrinkle-free, silk jersey that could be rolled up and packed easily—a feature appreciated by growing numbers of jet-set travelers. Technically advanced fabrics allowed him to fashion nonrestrictive clothes that were modern yet glamorous. Pucci also introduced an exciting array of colors, boldly mixing espresso and azure, tangerine and fuchsia, lime and turquoise, plum, and many other shades.

In addition to designing sleek silhouettes that allowed easy movement, using packable fabrics in an abundance of joyful colors, and insisting on top-quality workmanship, Pucci also designed his own prints. His prints included swirls, filigrees, arabesques, geometric figures, and kaleidoscopic or mosaic patterns. They were inspired by his far-flung travels to North and South America, Bali, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia. Pucci's finely-engineered prints also represented rich aspects of Italian history and cultural events as well as Mediterranean land- and seascapes. His prints from the 1950s, for example, featured motifs from Renaissance art, Florentine landmarks, the sunscapes and flowers of

Charissa Craig Pucci
Italian designer Emilio Pucci at a Berlin fashion show, 1972. Pucci stands on the runway with the models that presented his exotic silk and chiffon gowns. Bold, wild patterns adorn the sleek sheath dresses, reflecting Pucci's rebellious spirit. Charissa Craig, model. Reproduced by permission.

Capri, the mosaics of the Duomo di Monreale in Sicily, nightlife in Naples, and the flags from the famous annual Palio race in Siena. From the 1960s to the 1980s, his prints were inspired by his travels to Cuba, Bali, India, Hong Kong, and Tanzania. The American space program, underwater explorations, pop art, op art, rock music, and psychedelia also influenced his designs. One of Pucci's most famous prints, called Vivara, was inspired by the island Ischia; it became the name of his first fragrance in 1965. He even found time to sketch ideas for new print patterns during plane trips or sessions of the Italian Parliament, where he served from 1963 to 1972.

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