Lived from 1914 until 1992, Emilio Pucci was born in Florence to one of the most noble families at the time. He worked and lived in the Pucci Palace for much of his life. He is considered as a great fashion designer as well as a willful politician. Emilio and his eponymous label are both synonymous to geometric patterns and colorful kaleidoscope.
Pucci was passionate about sports and had the sportsman spirit instilled deep into him – he skied, swam, played tennis, raced cars and fenced. By the time he was seventeen years old, Pucci travelled with the Italian team to Lake Placid for the 1932 Winter Olympics, but did not complete the expedition.
After studying at the University of Milan for two years, he learned agriculture in Athens from the University of Georgia where he became Demosthenian Literary Society member. Three years after the Winter Olympics, he won a skiing scholarship for Reed College and completed a master’s degree in social science from there. In addition to this, he was awarded his political science doctorate from University of Florence.
In 1938, Pucci joined and served the Italian Air Force during the Second World War. While the war was on, he was the confidant of Edda, the eldest daughter of Benito Mussolini. Emilio played a chief role in the plan to save Edda’s husband, Galeazzo Ciano who was the ex-foreign minister of Mussolini. During this time when Pucci tried run away to Switzerland, the Germans arrested him. The Gestapo tortured him in order to extract information about Ciano. A message was sent by the Germans to Edda via Pucci and after that he resided in Switzerland until the war ended.
Moving on, Pucci’s first design project was to make clothes for the skiing team of Reed College. It was in 1947 that his work garnered wider attention. Pucci designed a skiwear for a female buddy and it was photographed by an employee of Harper’s Bazaar, Toni Frissell. The editor of the magazine then ask Frissell to ask Pucci to create skiwear for a European Winter Fashion story. When the clothes were featured in 1948 during the winter season, Emilio’s designs caused widespread awareness and the designer received many offers from manufacturers in America to produce for them. However, Pucci opened his own haute couture store in Isle of Capri’s Canzone del Mare.
Initially he used stretch materials to make swimwear in 1949, but later on Pucci experimented and moved on to other things, such as bold and bright colored silk patterned scarves. He was then encouraged by Stanley Marcus (Neiman Marcus) to use such a design in blouses. As the business expanded, Pucci opened a store in Rome. In 1950s, he was achieving worldwide recognition. The designer was presented with the Neiman Marcus Award during a ceremony held in Dallas. Moreover, he was given the Burdine’s Sunshine Award. By the 60s, he became more popular when the iconic Marilyn Monroe became his fan. George Barris photographed her in a variety of items made by Pucci. In fact, she was buried wearing one of his outfits. As the time progressed, his designs were worn by people like Jackie Kennedy, Madonna and Sophia Loren.
In 1959, Pucci launched his lingerie collection in Chicago and signed a contract with Formfit-Rogers mills. The venture was successful and within a year Pucci became in charge of the design and production. The same year, he met a baroness from Rome, Baronessa Cristina Nannini whom he later married.