To the Moon and Back: The Artistic Career of Emilio Pucci

Born in Naples on 20 November, 1914,  Emilio Pucci, the Marquis of Barsento, belonged to one of the oldest patrician families of Tuscany, who could trace their ancestry back to the thirteenth century. 

Educated to the highest level, Emilio spent his time as an undergraduate at the Universities of Milan and Georgia and subsequently received a scholarhip from Reed College, Oragon, where he gained an MA. In 1937, Pucci was awarded a doctorate from the University of Florence. 

An olympic skier, Pucci made his first foray into fashion designing practical ski wear. Accordingly, he introduced the first one-peice ski suit, which took the both the sport and fashion industries by storm.

Having set up a high-fashion house on the Isle of Capri, Emilio went on to dress the rich, the famous and members of the post-war jet set. 

During the mid 1960s and early 1970s Pucci was commissioned by Braniff International Airways to design several distinctive and futuristic sets of uniform for their air crew. Furthermore, prior to the 1971 Apollo 15 space mission, Emilio also devised a design that, with a small colour adjustment, would become the official mission motif. 

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Despite various forays into designs for extraterrestrial activities, Emilio Pucci’s creations were a homage to the colours, textures and patterns that he experienced here on earth and were often devised with comfort and practicality in mind. For instance, the tropical colours that swirled in abstract patterns were perhaps inspired by the topography and raucous natural palate of the mediterranean regions, while other more geometric patterns were, according to  Laura Mansour, “inspired by the world around him, which included Sicilian mosaics, the heraldic banners of Siena’s Palio horse race, Bali Batiks, and African motifs.” Pucci however, maintained that he didn’t “need any special inspiration for my fashion, all I need to do is leave my home and look towards Palazzo Medici Riccardi, gaze at the rooftops and the people in the streets, walk the cobblestones of the Centre and glance towards the Loggia dei Lanzi.”

In later life, Pucci retreated to his Florentine palazzo, which he had refurbished,  and was rarely seen in public. On 29 November, 1992, he died after suffering a heart attack. The Independent newspaper described him as, “the most important figure in Italian fashion during the 1950s and 1960s.” The New York Times stated that, “at the top of his career, the designer did not stop at clothes. His distinctive prints, a mixture of geometric and art nouveau designs, appeared in towels, sheets, wall coverings, jewelry, glasses, airline uniforms, bath products and underwear. His clothes were sold widely throughout the Orient, Europe, the Caribbean and the United States.In addition to his work in fashion, Mr. Pucci was concerned with politics. He served two terms in the Italian Chamber of Deputies in the 1950’s.” Pucci’s own opinion of himself however, may have been a little more tongue-in-cheek. According to journalists he had once described himself as “the only member of his family to work for a thousand years, “ the fortunate guy who “married a Botticelli.” 

Images: 1 and 2 Wikimedia Commons.

Image 3 © 2000 Mark Shaw.

Image 4 Courtesy of Casci Rirchie.

Image 5 Courtesy of La Yaya Cosuturera. 

Image 6 Courtesy of The Sir’s Corner

Image 7 © 2019 Dexigner.

Image 8 © 2019 – 13 THINGS LTD.

Image 9 Courtesy of The Space Patch Database. 

References: Lara Mansour, “The Prince of Prints: The History of Emilio Pucci.” In AEWorld, February 22, 2018. 

Bernardine Morris, “Emilio Pucci, Designer of Bright Prints, Dies at 78.” In The New York Times, December 1, 1992. 

Diedre Pirro, “Emilio Pucci: The Noble Designer.” In The Florentine, June 12 2008. 

Rupert Scott, “Emilio Pucci: Obituary:. In The Independent, December 1, 1992. 

Posted by Samantha Hughes-Johnson

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