The Power of Pucci: The History of Emilio Pucci April 19 2022

The days are getting shorter, the sun harder to find, and the temperature is definitely, definitely dropping—as much as I hate to acknowledge it, winter might just be on its way (which is a pretty serious event here in Maine). I’m not sure about you, but I’m trying to hold on to the last vestiges of summer by wearing as much cheerful color as possible. And like any good designer-minded person, color is synonymous with Pucci. Emilio Pucci is hands-down my favorite designer for color and pattern—take one look at his clothes, and it’s perpetual summer. Silhouettes are flirty and feminine, colors are bold, and patterns are always eye-catching. What could be better? For all of that great stuff, we’ve got Emilio Pucci to thank.

Born in 1914 in Florence to an old-nobility family, Pucci was an avid sportsman—he even traveled to Lake Placid for the 1932 Winter Olympics as part of the Italian ski team, although he did not end up competing. Six years later he joined the Italian Air force, where he served as a torpedo bomber pilot. When the war ended, Pucci pursued his passion for fashion design, and began his career designing skiwear (which is the exact opposite of what I want to be thinking about right now!). It was during this time that Pucci began using stretch fabrics, which had undergone some experimentation in Europe before the War, but were not widely used. He began using the fabric for a swimwear line (launched in 1949), but then moved on to scarves. Encouraged by Stanley Marcus (the Marcus in Neiman Marcus) to diversify into blouses and printed silk dresses, Pucci’s popularity began to rise.

1959, Florence, Italy — The Florentine fashion designer Emilio Pucci surrounded by some of his models and working on one of his designs, Florence, Italy, 1959. — Image by © David Lees/CORBIS

By the early 1950s, Pucci had achieved international recognition, and his status as a designer was pushed higher when Marilyn Monroe began being photographed in his designs. These were some of the final photographs before her death—and when she did die in 1962, she was buried in a Pucci dress.

In 1965 Pucci was hired by Braniff International Airways as a part of their design team to update their look—the company’s terminals were being remodeled, and Pucci was in charge of designing new clothes for the hostesses. Between 1965 and 1974 he designed six complete collections for Braniff employees, for everyone from hostesses to pilots to ground crew. His designs were so popular that in 1968 outfits based on his uniform designs were made for Barbie.

Pucci for Bantiff Airlines 1966

When Emilio Pucci died in 1992, the label was continued under the directorship of Laudomia Pucci, Emilio’s daughter. In 2000 the Louis Vuitton-Moet-Hennessy Group acquired a controlling portion of Pucci. One thing is for certain—Pucci always puts me in a good mood. Call it psychological, call it magic, call if whatever you want—it’s hard to deny the power of Pucci.