This post was co-authored by Rebecca Long, Curatorial Assistant for European Painting and Sculpture to 1945, and Petra Slinkard, Curatorial Associate of Textile and Fashion Arts/European Painting and Sculpture to 1945.
Fashion designer and Italian aristocrat, Emilio Pucci is perhaps best known for his brilliant, sinuous prints. Inspired first by the atmosphere on the Island of Capri, Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento (1914-1992) began designing clothing for women in 1949, opening a small shop a few years later. Preoccupied with the absurd constraints popular clothing of the time imposed on women; he re-conceptualized menswear for women, as resort wear. Loose fitting shift dresses, palazzo pants and blouses, created out of luxurious hand-painted silks. The instantly recognizable Pucci brand was highly sought after for much of the 1950s and 1960s.
Emilio regularly looked to his heritage for inspiration; his ancestry can be traced back to both Lorenzo de Medici and Catherine the Great. “Possibly the greatest misconception about Emilio Pucci is that the prints that made the brand famous are abstract. In fact, they are drawings, often simply inspired by objects, or Pucci’s home surroundings…” (Pucci: Fashion Story, 2010, pg. 107)
Considered a Renaissance man by many , he was “… fascinated by his roots, and art and architecture; you can actually see it in his work. On my honeymoon in Capri in 1953, I remember going to his shop and being struck by how much the designs resembled Florentine mosaics. It was really extraordinary, although I don’t think a lot of people realized it.” –Rosita Missoni (Pucci: Fashion Story, 2010, pg. 42)
In 2009, the IMA acquired a silk scarf by Emilio Pucci, titled La Caccia or The Chase from his Botticelliana Collection, 1959. The motif for the scarf is inspired by the Stories of Nastagio degli Onesti by Sandro Botticelli.