Emilio Pucci, was born in Naples on November 20, 1914. He came from an illustrious family tracing its heritage to the thirteenth century. He graduated from the Universita di Firenze in 1941 with a doctorate in political science. Pucci had been a member of the Italian Olympic skiing team in 1934 and had gone to Reed College on a skiing scholarship in 1937. In 1947 the photographer Toni Frissell took photographs of Pucci and his female companions in Zeermatt, Switzerland, wearing form-fitting, colorful ski clothes that Pucci had designed. The pictures were published in the December 1948 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Several of his designs were ordered for Lord and Taylor’s New York.
In 1949, Pucci opened a boutique in Capri, Italy, (named Emilio of Capri), where he sold the tapered pants that became known as Capri pants, as well as sexy silk shirts fitted to show off the female figure, shorts, resort dresses, slacks and casual shoes. The next phase of Pucci’s career began at his first fashion show of Italian designers in 1951. It was held in the Sala Bianca at Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Mayor American stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue sent their buyers, who not only loved his sleek, lightweight T-shirts, jersey dresses, silk shirts, and tapered pants but his aristocratic roots.
In 1954, Pucci won the coveted Neiman Marcus Award. He won the award a second time in 1967. Pucci introduced a very lightweight, wrinkly-free, silk jersey that could be rolled up and packed easily; a feature appreciated by growing numbers of jet-set-travelers. Pucci also designed his prints, which included swirls, filigrees, arabesques, geometric figures, and kaleidoscopic or mosaic patterns; inspired by his travels to North and South America, Bali, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia. Pucci’s fine prints also represented rich aspects of Italian history and cultural events as well as Mediterranean land – and seascapes. From the 1960s to the 1980s, his prints were inspired by his travels to Cuba, Bali, India, Hong Kong, and Tanzania. The American space program, underwater explorations, pop art, op art, rock music, and psychedelia also influenced his designs. He signed his name, Emilio to all of his print designs to differentiate his work from the numerous copies in the market.
Emilio Pucci became one of the first designers with a recognizable high-status label and signature style. He designed various products from perfumes to accessories, including handbags, scarves, sunglasses, tights, shoes, and lingerie. Pucci personally supervised the design of all his products. He designed colorful, sexy, and futuristic uniforms for the flight hostesses of Braniff Airways in 1965 and Quanta Airways in 1974. He also designed uniforms for the policewomen of Florence. Pucci married Christina Nannini and had two children, Laudomia and Alessandro.
After his death on November 29, 1992, his wife Cristina and his daughter Laudomia, took over the management of the firm. In 2000, the French conglomerate Moet Henessey Louis Vuitton (LVMH) acquired the rights and hired designer Julio Espada and later Christian Lacroix. In 2000, Pucci was awarded the Fashion Excellence award from the International Apparel Mart in Dallas. In 2006, British Designer Matthew Williamson took over as creative director with Pucci’s daughter Laudomia as image director.