Tag Archives: Emilio Pucci

1960s Emilio Pucci Pants Set

Photo courtesy of Meloo Vintage

I find that I’m a bit of an age snob when it comes to looking for sportswear for my collection. What that means is that I find it to be a lot more exciting to look for items from the first half of the 20th century than for those from the second half.

I think part of the problems is that so much survives from the 1960s and 70s, that I’ve learned to be really picky about what I pick up. If I have got mid 1960s “scooter” dresses on my mind, I could go to etsy, Ruby Lane, and Ebay and have my pick of dozens of items.  Even with high-end garments like those from Italian designer Emilio Pucci, there are hundreds of items listed for sale at any given time.

So, I don’t really search very hard for things made in the last sixty years or so, but when I run across a stellar example, I’m ready to shop. And when Melissa of Meloo Vintage posted this set on Instagram, I fell in love.

For years I’ve been looking for an older Pucci set, from his days on the Isle of Capri, but I’ve not been lucky to find what I wanted. I dumbly passed on a great ski-themed top from the late 1950s, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. But when I saw this tunic and pants set, I knew I’d found my Pucci set.

It dates a little later, from the early to mid 1960s. Pucci can be difficult to date, as the nature of the prints are outside the whims of fashion. Older prints (from the 1950s) are often on a theme, like the skiing blouse I mentioned. The label used is a big help, and my set has the labels most commonly seen in the 1960s.

I’d love to think that some jet setter bought it in Italy, but instead there is a B. Forman of Rochester label alongside the Pucci one. I have no idea what the little “E” label means.

You can see that a metal zipper was used, but be sure to note the way it was inserted – by hand picking. This is a detail seen more commonly in couture clothing, which this is not. But it does go to show how much more handwork went into high-end ready-to-wear fifty-five years ago than you see today.

The crease in the pants is made permanent by the use of hand picking, and the side seams are secured in the same manner.

What really sold me on this set was the way the print of the tunic was designed specifically to be a top with a scalloped edge. It’s one of things that makes the set so special. Imagine, for contrast, if the tunic was made from the same print, but that it was cut in a willy-nilly manner with no thought to the scallops or to the placement of the center of the design.

What could be more Continental than three-quarters length sleeves with French cuffs?

The bateau neck is actually padded. It’s just one more great detail.

In the late 1960s mainstream fashion caught up with Pucci, and these “psychedelic” prints were everywhere. From what I’ve seen of Pucci garments from the 1970s and later, the print became the design, but in these earlier pieces you can see how Pucci was more than just a bunch of color thrown onto the fabric.

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Filed under Collecting, Designers, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Waist Management: A History of Unmentionables

The Fashion History Museum has a newly opened exhibition at the  Peel Art Gallery Museum in Brampton, Ontario,  Waist Management  It’s all about how undergarments have been used to help women achieve a fashionable silhouette, something that is apparent in just one photo from the display.

A while back I wrote about selling items from my collection and how I’d do it only if I were convinced that the person wanting an item wanted it more than I.  The truth is I’ve also been known to actually give things away if I know someone needs it.

Back in the very early days of Ebay I was smart enough (actually that would be lucky enough) to buy a bit of the lingerie line that Emilio Pucci designed for Formfit Rogers.  At the time it was considered to be a poor alternative to the wonderful silk jersey vintage Puccis that were already getting nice ending prices on the auction site, but the lingerie was cheap and so I bought a few miscellaneous pieces.

After the onslaught of fast fashion made of tissue paper thin poly, the thin nylon Formfit Puccis soared in price.  They were seen not only as wearable clothing, but gained deserved respect as a part of fashion history.

Several months ago I was mindlessly browsing the site I love to hate, Pinterest, and noticed that the Fashion History Museum had begun posting parts of the collection.  In their lingerie section was a Pucci Formfit Rogers matching bra and girdle.  I was pretty sure I had a matching piece, and a quick look through my catalog revealed that I did have a matching robe.

I emailed Jonathan at the museum to ask if he would like to have my piece for the museum’s collection, and of course he did.  I sent it off along with another donation and an ad that showed that this design dates to 1969.

I was delighted to get the photo in my inbox last night.  Knowing that something I had accumulated is now being used to educate others about fashion history is a great feeling.

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Filed under Collecting, Museums, Uncategorized

Emilio Pucci in America, Georgia Museum of Art

Emilio Pucci skiing at Reed College in the uniform he designed for the ski team there, 1937. Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library, Reed College.

Yesterday I took a museum day.  The Georgia Museum of Art in Athens had just opened a new fashion exhibition and I was anxious to see it.  The topic was Emilio Pucci, who needs no introduction from me.  What many might be surprised to know is that Pucci actually attended the University of Georgia in Athens after transferring from the University of Milan.  He then went on to Reed College in Oregon.

As the title tells us, the exhibition was not a comprehensive study of the career of Emilio Pucci, nor was it a history of the company.  It was about how the Italian Pucci had relationships with American institutions and companies.  The exhibition is quite small, and there are a few gaps in what was displayed, but overall it gives an excellent view of Pucci’s American relationships.  Photos were not allowed (although there was no sign stating such, and it took getting my hand slapped to find it out) and the photos supplied for press do not show any of the clothes as they are displayed, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to use your imagination somewhat.

Probably the best known collaboration between Pucci and an American company was that with the lingerie company, Formfit Rogers.  Throughout the 1960s and into the 70s Pucci designed undergarments and sleeping attire for Formfit.  On exhibit was a panty girdle, and four matching lingerie pieces in blue.

Braniff hostess modeling in a pink Pucci uniform holding an umbrella standing in the front part of a jet engine. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Between 1965 and 1974, Pucci designed uniforms for the stewardesses of Braniff Airlines.  The ensembles included everything from head to toe: hats, scarves,dresses,tunics,pants, leggings, shoes, and boots.  Archival photos show that the stewardesses were allowed to mix and match the pieces, though the staff was provided with clothing that corresponded to various activities and which involved two in-air clothing changes.

Braniff hostess wearing a pink Pucci uniform and a bubble helmet standing in front of a Concorde airplane at the Paris Airshow, 1967. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

The exhibition had this tunic, and it also had the plastic bubble hood.  Archival photos show that the women often wore the tights with a solid dress.

Group photo of early Emilio Pucci hostesses uniforms for Braniff. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas

Group photo of early Emilio Pucci hostesses uniforms for Braniff. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas

The bubble hood was only used for a short period because of its tendency to malfunction.

My favorite outfit from the exhibition was a circa 1955 two-piece swimsuit and matching cape that Pucci designed for Canadian-American swimsuit designer Rose Marie Reid.  The print was a tiny Venice theme, and while I could not find a photo of it online, there is a similar Reid piece for sale.  That set just went to the very top of my wishlist.

I was really hoping that there would be some of the very rare pieces that Pucci did for White Stag in 1948.  They did have the copy of the Harper’s Bazaar in which the pieces were shown, but no actual garments.  And there was no mention of the mid 1950s collaboration between Pucci and the McCall’s Pattern Company, nor was there any mention of the patterns he did for Vogue in the 1960s and 70s.

Even though this exhibition was quite small, I’m glad I took the time to go see it.  The clothing was very well presented, and the lighting was good enough so that the details could be easily examined.  It is well worth a drive if you are in Georgia or the western Carolinas.

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Filed under Designers, Museums, Road Trip

A Pucci for the Californians

I was all ready to leave the topic of Pucci behind and move on when a set of photos appeared in my inbox.  Sent by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous, they are of another early Pucci, this one a blouse made from Pucci fabric with a California theme.

The style of the blouse is very much like the last one I posted.  I can picture either of them worn over a pair of capris accessorized with sandals and a big sun hat. Both blouses have the same label, though with a different color printing.  As I pointed out in my earlier post, this is the second Pucci label, after he expanded to Florence, but before he added “Pucci”  to the label.

There is also an I. Magnin label.  I. Magnin was a San Francisco based department store that carried luxury lines and high fashion clothing.  Not only was this blouse sold at I. Magnin, it was specially designed for the store.

I think it is interesting that the blouse is signed Emilio of Capri, while the label is the later Capri/Florence one.

There is also something else interesting about this blouse, and the other two early Pucci pieces that I showed before.  One clue that people use to help identify an authentic Pucci is the squiggly “Emilio” signature found scattered within the print.  But none of these early examples have the signature.  It was not until the 1960s when Pucci turned to more abstract designs that were very easy to copy  that the signature was added.  Upon the advice of his buyer at Lord & Taylor, Marjorie Griswold, the signature was added in the mid 1960s.

I hate to think that vintage buyers might have passed on unsigned pieces because they suspected that they might be fakes.

As for the design of the print, does anyone have a clue as to the possible meaning behind those mermaid Indian girls?

If you want to know more about Emilio Pucci, tomorrow I’ll have a link to the best article on his life that I’ve ever read.

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Filed under Curiosities, Designers, Novelty Prints

Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers

Not long ago I spotted the half slip pictured above in my not-so-secret shopping place.  My first thought was that it was an Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers so I started looking for the evidence:  the initials EPFR printed within the print.  I was just about to give up and call it a good copy when I spotted them.

In 1959 Pucci decided that he wanted to expand into lingerie.  Rather than do the production in-house, he was advised to look for an established lingerie company that would handle production.  Pucci came to the United States, and signed a deal with Formfit Rogers, a Chicago company.  Pucci provided the designs which were printed onto nylon tricot.   Much of the production took place in a factory in Tennessee.

I’ve seen the uncut fabric.  They printed it in big squares, about 72 inches, with an overall print surrounded by a small , about three inches, border.  The pieces were cut, using the border at the hem.  Sometime the border was cut and sewn, for a detail like a V-neckline.

We tend to think of designer “collaborations” as being a new scheme, but this is a good example of how even in the 1960s designers were finding ways to get their designs into the hands of people who could not afford their regular designs.  In 1969, a Pucci for Formfit half slip was priced at $9, or about $55 today.  Years ago I bought a bra and matching slip from a woman in Asheville.  She told me that she was living in New York City in 1969, working at her first job.  When she got that first paycheck she wanted to go out and splurge, and she ended up buying the Pucci set.

The line was quite successful, and lasted into the 1970s.  Still, the pieces are relatively hard to find, probably because people recognize them for what they are and snap them up.

In the early days of ebay, these Pucci Formfit pieces were very inexpensive.  I once bought a lot of six pieces for around $30.  Then the fabrics in modern ready-to-wear got thinner and thinner, and people started buying the lingerie to wear as outerwear.  They are no longer a bargain.

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Filed under Designers, Made in the USA, Textiles

Sporty Pucci

I think most fashion lovers are well acquainted with the prints of Emilio Pucci.  Through the 1960s and into the 70s his psychedelic colorful prints were well loved by the Jet Set.  But before his brightly colored geometric prints became a must-have item for an island getaway, Pucci was also making interesting novelty prints  that he sold in his boutiques in Italy.

Emilio Pucci led an very interesting life long before he became a designer.  He was born into an aristocratic Florentine family, and was a member of the Italian ski team in the 1932 Olympics.  He made his way to the USA where he attended Reed College in Oregon on a skiing scholarship.  While there he did his first designing – the uniforms for the college ski team.

During WWII Pucci was a pilot in the Italian Air Force.  His participation in the war came to a halt in 1944 when he helped one of Mussolini’s daughters escape to Switzerland.  Her husband had been the Italian foreign minister and had been executed for his part in a plan to remove Mussolini from power.  Pucci escaped to Switzerland where he spent the rest of the war.

In 1947  some ski clothes Pucci designed for a woman friend were photographed by Harper’s Bazaar photographer Toni Frissell.  The pants were made of a stretch fabric, and Bazaar asked Pucci to design skiwear to be featured in a fashion shoot.  After the photos came out in 1948, Pucci was made offers by several big skiwear firms.  He did do a line for American company White Stag.  I’ve often wondered if the White Stag items had any special labeling.

By 1949 Pucci had opened a boutique on the Italian island of Capri.  There he first sold swimsuits and scarves, and after consulting with Stanley Marcus of Neiman-Marcus, he was convinced to turn the scarves into blouses.   He continued working with stretch fabrics, and the ski pants morphed into stretch slacks for casual wear.  They were produced in solid colors that coordinated with the colors in the print blouses and scarves.

The earliest Pucci labels read “Emilio of Capri” or “Original Emilio Sportswear.”  Pucci did not want to use the family name as it was considered to be unseemly for a noble family to be in trade.  The second label was developed when Pucci opened up in Florence, but was still also in Capri.  Both of the items I’m showing have this label.  I’ve never read exactly when this label was first used, but it did not last but a few years because the entire operation was eventually moved to Florence.

Click

By the early 1960s Pucci was famous, and rich, and the label became “Emilio Pucci”  I guess money speaks louder than society’s expectations.

This wonderful blouse was posted on the Vintage Fashion Guild forums, and I just had to share it with you.  It is from seller Jeana at Erawear Vintage, and it has the best ever ski motif.

The colors are exactly what you would expect from a Pucci print, but the charming print makes it so much more special.

Another VFG seller, Terri of Vintage Devotion, recently found this super Pucci print that has a golf motif.  Pucci loved sports, and not just skiing.

See the “Emilio” signature in the print?  This signature continues to this day in Pucci prints.

Blouse photos copyright Erawear Vintage

Dress photos copyright Vintage Devotion

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Filed under Designers, Novelty Prints, Sportswear, World War II