Words by Patty Penke, author of Stop Throwing Cash In the Trash: Your Guidebook to Finding Hidden Treasures and Transforming them Into Huge Profits.
Sunglasses photo credit etsy.com seller Mia Malonzo Brender VintagEnMode
The first question my readers might ask is, who was Emilio Pucci, and what is he well known for? As Austin Powers would say, “It’s fashion, baby, yeah!”
There is so much to say about Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento. This article is just a small summary of his life and why his vintage mod fashions are quite valuable to vintage clothing collectors around the world today. This is due in part because these items were created over 50 years ago – they are extremely hard-to-find today, thus, valuable!
Emilio Pucci (1914-1992) was also nicknamed ‘The Prince of Prints’. He was a famous Italian Florentine, colourist, haute couture fashion designer. Pucci had a high status fashion label and unique signature style that helped pave the way to fashion licensing.
Finding a pair of his vintage signature, designer sunglasses may bring you in an extra $500; a full bottle of Pucci’s original 1960s fragrance ‘Vivara’ perfume, can sell for $200; or finding Emilio silk jersey shirts, dresses or snug leggings ranging from $300-$1,000. I once discovered a vintage Formfit Rogers “Viva” panty. It was an innovative lightweight girdle Pucci created in the late 1950s, along with a lingerie line, and sold it on eBay for $100 – a sweet profit since I had originally paid a dollar for it. “Groovy, baby, yeah!”
The wave of enthusiasm for Pucci’s clothes would be known as “Puccimania”, which reached its height in 1967. Emilio Pucci’s talents were not only limited to his exquisite fashion designs, which featured an intense eye for creating a mixture of exotic, vibrant colour combinations, in a variety of mod/psychedelic patterns. Pucci also created the 1971 Apollo XV, mission emblem, inventing his tight shantung ‘Emilio’ pants, tapered capris, and the designs for the flight attendants for Braniff and Quantas Airlines. Similarly, he created a Space Age “RainDome” helmet for Braniff. Did I say a women’s “Space Age, ‘RainDome’ helmet?” Yes, you heard right. In the 1960s, Pucci created plastic bubble hoods for Braniff Airways flight hostesses to protect their hairdos from rain and wind. Unfortunately, they were only produced for one month because the plastic would crack.
His Career in the Fashion Industry
Pucci, became involved in the fashion industry in Switzerland during the 1940s shortly after serving in WWII. Emilio Pucci was quite the athlete. In fact, while he was hitting the slopes, as a professional skier, in the Swiss Alps with some female companions, he began a new a career in the creative fashion designing industry. He started by creating couture, sleek comfortable ski suits in a silk combination fabric-which became known as “Emiliofoam” for his fellow female skiing companions.
His fashionable couture (made-to-measure garments with little regard for costs of materials when creating them) skiwear caught the attention of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine photographer, Toni Frissell. An invitation from Harper’s Bazaar editor came shortly after; Pucci was asked to design a line of skiwear for a European winter fashion article for the magazine.
In the mid-1940s Emilio Pucci’s eye for colour and design inspired him to start designing women’s swimwear and bold, vibrant-coloured silk headscarves. By the later part of the 1940s, Mr. Stanley Marcus (of Neiman Marcus Department Stores) asked him if he would be interested in creating the now-highly sought after- ready-to-wear ladies clothing line. He started his line of colour collections with lightweight T-shirts; silk, jersey tunic dresses; curvy, sensual silk shirts, and tapered Capri pants.
Emilio opened his first boutique, located on the “Isle of Capri” in Italy. The La Canzone del Mare, which catered to high society clientele and sophisticates. Several celebrities would visit the fashion house for their wardrobe. This is where Pucci created, Capris – tapered pants he named after his boutique. Some of his regular fans included: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Gina Lollobrigita, and Marilyn Monroe. Did you know, Marilyn Monroe adored Pucci’s colourful garments so much, it’s said she was buried in her favourite pale green Emilio Pucci dress she once wore in Mexico in 1962?
The 50s younger generation would shake-up the original Parisian “masters of haute couture.” It was a post-war revival of sorts. A time of numerous changes to the fashion industry of early 20th century. Emilio Pucci’s wrinkle-free, ready-to-wear fashion apparel came in swirled, psychedelic, Pop Art patterns. He used fun, vibrant coloured geometric patterns in his fashion line. During the 1960s-1970s, he would add several other product collection lines, such as accessories, ceramics, perfumes, luxurious lingerie and undergarments; among other consumer goods.
How to recognize authentic, mid-century Emilio Pucci products?
Look for his exuberant colourful styles; also watch for Emilio Pucci’s signature within the fabric print (Emilio-including the initials “EPFR” on his line of undergarments) of his designer motifs. Emilio Pucci-Made in Italy – garment labels, and store hang tags attached to garments.
After Emilio Pucci died 1992, his daughter Laudomia, and wife Christina, kept his legacy with the multinational conglomerate luxury company, LVMH. Today, the Pucci geometric aesthetic appeal carries on with the designer Peter Dundas. Celebrities, such as Madonna, Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez, and Ivana Trump, have all been seen on the “red carpet” wearing Pucci.
So, as Madonna’s song would say, “Hey, hey, hey! Come on Vogue.”