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Fausto Puglisi never strays too far from home.  While his collections bear traces of Eighties Miami influences, it’s the designer’s Southern Italian roots that truly inspire him. This was evident in his first men’s capsule collection, which he presented at Pitti Uomo in Florence in June. The strong Mediterranean mood came through in the bad-boy styling, bold colors and the abundance of gold chains, necklaces and earrings, as well as in the hyper-masculine, macho casting. And what was more “Miami Vice” than Gianni Versace in the Eighties?

This story first appeared in the August 17, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Here, Puglisi, just back from a vacation in Apulia and planning to spend the rest of the summer in his native Sicily, discusses the power that Southern Italian culture has on his creativity.

How do your Southern Italian roots inspire your work?

Recently I drove from Cisternino to Messina and this trip was super-inspirational. I felt like a tourist, with no duties or limits. Coming back to the south is becoming more and more vital to me — and it’s not just because of its beauty, since amazing things are juxtaposed with others that are horrible. For me, the south is not just that one portrayed in postcards, it’s more than that. In my eyes it’s about the sea, the countryside, the wheat fields, its contradictions. The south is a punch in the face. I’m obsessed by beauty that in the south is influenced by the Greek and Spanish cultures, which create a mix of poetry and excess at the same time.

With your men’s presentation, it seemed you wanted to portray a very Mediterranean man.

The personality of the people living in Southern Italy is a great inspiration for me. Some of them can be uneducated, very simple, yet most of them have a fearless attitude and a very strong point of view, which is what I try to achieve with my collections. My search for my own idea of beauty is free from prejudices — for example, the use of printed silk in men’s clothes is crucial for me, but I totally understand that only very confident men can wear it. But to be honest, at this point in my life and my career, I’m only interested in those things that are spontaneous and emotional.

Color always plays a pivotal role in your collections.

Of course! If you are raised in the south, bold colors are part of you — the turquoise of the sea, the blue sky, the sunsets tinged with almost neon tones — there is something quintessentially baroque about this.

Taking a look at your Instagram account, it’s clear that you are passionate about antique statues. Why?

I’m quite obsessed with ancient Greek and Roman statues probably because I think they embody absolute beauty. When I have time, I visit the Archaeological Museum and the National Museum of Capodimonte, both in Naples. I’m also really charmed by the way religious statues in Sicily are venerated in a way that might look almost pagan — people probably are not aware of this, but it’s genius.