You know it’s still summer. We fashion writers all have our heads in fall, but you’re still trying to dress minimally to beat the heat. You’re either going on an island (or beach) vacation or fantasizing about same. Resort as a season is becoming bigger and more important for many designers across the board. All of this brings us to the subject of Emilio Pucci, the man who virtually invented resort with easy clothes to be worn by the wealthy on holiday on the island of Capri. Silk jersey dresses, tunics, scarves and of course, “Capri” pants were all part of his wardrobe for the newly minted jet set. But what’s really interesting is how he developed his vocabulary of mad, bold geometric print and the lengths he went to push dye makers to develop ever more vivid colors. At the same time, he, like Coco Chanel before him, brought stretch materials used previously in athletic wear (in Chanel’s case it was jersey used previously for undergarments) to high fashion. And of course, like Chanel, he changed the way women dressed. His separates and dresses in signature Pucci prints and silhouettes placed an indelible stamp on an era (late 60s, early 70s) when they went from being elite-only to mass.
Where to start for an introduction? The 1998 book Emilio Pucci by Luigi Settembrini (with essays by others) is out of print (but likely available at your library…it’s over $200 on Amazon). Published on the occasion of the posthumous retrospective of Pucci’s work for the Biennale di Firenze, it is very worthwhile for its combination of life story and wonderful images. The reader is even treated to color sketches of patterns that would later be printed on silk scarves. Pucci, himself, drew the hundreds of print designs for each collection.
More recently, Assouline published Emilio Pucci by Mariuccia Casadio with 60 color photos, a must for any “reading” of the work by this brilliantly innovative master of color and pattern.