Leda "Lee" Pucci, who with her late husband Nicholas founded the Pucci Manikin Co. in the basement of their Mount Vernon, N.Y., home in the Fifties, died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 27. She was 87.
Pucci Manikin, now known as Ralph Pucci International, was originally a mannequin repair company that evolved into a mannequin design and manufacturing firm. Pucci's son Ralph took over in the Eighties, transforming it into a company creating high-end mannequins in the likenesses of top models and collaborating on mannequin designs with top fashion designers and illustrators. Ralph Pucci International, based at 44 West 18th Street in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, has further evolved into an eclectic showroom for international decorators, furniture designers, photographers and illustrators, and continues to design and manufacture mannequins for stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
Pucci was born in Gallipolis, Ohio, and was raised in The Bronx before moving to Westchester and then Manhattan. Before starting the business with her husband, who died in 1988, Pucci was a hairstylist for mannequins. That experience gave her the idea to form the mannequin repair firm.
She was active in Ralph Pucci International until becoming ill last January. "When it came to business, she was incredibly tenacious and feisty, yet very elegant and extremely fashionable, and up until a year ago, she still came to work at 8:15 and left at six," Ralph Pucci said. "Behind the scenes, she had her fingers in everything. Business and Pucci were in her blood."
In addition to Ralph, Pucci is survived by another son, John, three grandchildren, Michael, Nicole and Jennifer, and a great-grandson.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Epiphany Roman Catholic Church, 22nd Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, P.O. Box 50, Memphis, Tenn., 38101.
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