FLORENCE — Emilio Pucci was a man of many faces — a womanizer with fine manners, he flew torpedo missions in World War II, traveled the globe and excelled at sports. But, above all, he was a fashion innovator.
And the design house he founded, which is now owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is recapping 60 years of innovation this year. The festivities begin on Saturday when the late designer's daughter, Laudomia Pucci, co-hosts a dinner at Palazzo Pucci with Delphine Arnault (her father, Bernard, couldn't attend). Guests expected include Kylie Minogue, Elizabeth Hurley, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Gilles and Luziah Hennessy.
Pucci-esque beams will rev up the façade of the 14th-century palazzo and guests will be greeted by two installations: one by Gerard Cholot that consists of colorful miniature hot air balloons and the other a re-creation of Pucci's store inside the palace in the Fifties.
On Sunday, at Il Granaiolo, the family's country estate on the Florentine hills designed by Gae Aulenti in the Seventies, a lunch will be served to celebrate the launch of Vivara, Pucci's first fragrance in decades. Though the house would give few details, a jellyfish inspired the translucent bottle and top.
The celebrations come even though the Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento never expected to be a designer — but fashion became both a mission and vision for him. Born in Naples in 1914 to Orazio Pucci and Augusta Pavoncelli, Pucci was dubbed the "Prince of Prints" thanks to his vivid graphics, lightweight silks, jerseys and stretch fabrics.
"Pucci started Italian ready-to-wear in 1947, when Italy was living a postwar renaissance based on fashion and film," said Jaqueline Ceresoli, who teaches fashion history at the fashion and design school IED and at Milan's Politecnico. "He represented all the Italian codes that the Americans thrived for: more accessible prices compared to couture, color, quality, innovative fabrics and craftsmanship. Not to mention his noble roots."
Laudomia Pucci painted a similar picture of her father, who died in 1992 at age 78. "The historical period is fundamental for my dad's success," she noted. "No one really talks about the Fifties, but they were the strongest years in Italy from the movies on. They summarize the story of people that had survived the war and lived through anything. They were happy to start up again. It was an explosion of youth, towed by America and its Marshall Plan."
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