Fabulous Photos of Classic Beauties in Pucci Designs From the 1960s

Born 1914 in Naples to one of Florence’s oldest noble families, Italian fashion designer and politician Emilio Pucci was photgraphed by Toni Frissell of Harper’s Bazaar on the ski slopes of Italy wearing a ski ensemble of his own design in the late 1940s.

The first clothes designed by Pucci were for the Reed College skiing team. His designs came to wider attention in 1947, when he was on leave in Zermatt, Switzerland. Skiwear that he had designed for a female friend was photographed by Toni Frissell, a photographer working for Harper’s Bazaar. Frissell’s editor asked Pucci to design skiwear for a story on European Winter Fashion, which ran in the winter 1948 issue of the Bazaar.

Pucci was the first person to design a one-piece ski suit. Although there had been some experiments with stretch fabrics in Europe before the war, Pucci’s sleek designs caused a sensation, and he received several offers from American manufacturers to produce them. Instead, he left the Air Force and set up an haute couture house in the fashionable resort of Canzone del Mare on the Isle of Capri.

Initially, he used his knowledge of stretch fabrics to produce a swimwear line in 1949, but he soon moved onto other items such as brightly coloured, boldly patterned silk scarves. Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus encouraged him to use the designs in blouses and then a popular line of wrinkle-free printed silk dresses. Pucci presented his collection in the first fashion shows in Italy in 1950. Pucci added a boutique in Rome as business thrived, helped by Capri’s role as a destination for the international jet set. By the early 1950s, Pucci was achieving international recognition, receiving the Neiman-Marcus Award in Dallas and the Burdine’s Sunshine Award in Miami.

By the 1960s, Pucci was further thrust into greater status when Marilyn Monroe became a fan. She was photographed by George Barris in a number of Pucci’s items in what would be some of her final photographs. After Monroe’s death in 1962, she was interred wearing a Pucci dress.

As the decade progressed his designs were worn by everyone from Sophia Loren to Jackie Kennedy, as well as later pop icons such as Madonna in the early 1990s. In fashion history, especially during the period of the 1950s and 1960s, Pucci was a perfect transition example between luxurious couture and ready-to-wear in Europe and the North America.

In 1959, Pucci decided to create a lingerie line. His atelier in Rome advised him to develop the line abroad, avoiding the difficulties of a decade earlier in matching available fabrics to the patterns of his first swimwear line. As a result, Pucci came to Chicago giving the lingerie contract to Formfit-Rogers mills. The venture proved to be successful, and Pucci was made vice president in charge of design and merchandising for the company a year later.

In February 1959, he married Cristina Nannini from Rome, about whom he later remarked, “I married a Botticelli.” They had two children, Alessandro and Laudomia. Alessandro died in a car crash in 1998, six years after his father.

In 1965, New York ad agency Jack Tinker and Associates was hired by Braniff International Airways to update their image. The agency’s Mary Wells hired Alexander Girard to remodel the terminals, and Pucci to design new clothes for the hostesses. As the ads put it, it was “The End of the Plain Plane”.

Pucci would end up designing six complete collections for Braniff hostesses, pilots and ground crew between 1965 and 1974. A mark of his impact was that by 1968 Barbie had versions of all of his first four uniforms. These avant-garde creations were designed as individual components to be added or removed as weather dictated. The uniforms included turtlenecks, T-shirts, crop jackets, and culottes. Among the more unusual innovations was a “bubble helmet” – a clear plastic hood worn by flight attendants between terminal building and aircraft to protect their hairdos from rain and the blast of jet engines. There were two designs of the “bubble helmet” that was dubbed RainDome by Braniff and Bola and Space Helmet by Emilio Pucci. The first edition, called a Bola, was a zippered version that ran down the center of the helmet and the second was a snap together version in place of the zipper called Space Helmet. Pucci incorporated Girard’s “BI” logo into some of his prints.

Pucci’s influence extended to the Moon. He suggested the three bird motif for the design of the Apollo 15 mission patch, although the crew replaced his blues and greens with a more patriotic red, white, and blue, according to Apollo astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Al Worden at a presentation, “Apollo 11: Behind the Scene”, at the Whalehead Club in Corolla, North Carolina, 18 July 2019.

In addition to his work in fashion, Pucci contested the Florence–Pistoia district for the Italian Liberal Party in the Italian election of April 1963. He came second on their slate with 2,780 votes behind Vittorio Fossombroni, but the party only won one seat. However he succeeded Fossombroni in the Italian Chamber of Deputies in August of that year.

He retained his seat in the 1968 election, but lost it in the 1972 election, despite being the district’s top PLI candidate with 4,231 votes. (Wikipedia)

Pucci died in 1992 at the age of 78.

These fabulous photos that captured classic beauties in Pucci designs from the 1960s.

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