In the world of designer fashion, there are certain names which are synonymous with specific looks. Obvious examples are Coco Chanel with her little black dress and classic cardigan jacket, Christian Dior with his figure-enhancing full skirts and feminine décolleté necklines, and Emilio Pucci with his distinctive colorful prints, smart sportswear and flowing at-home-wear.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Emilio Pucci (1914-1992) a lot. It all started a couple of years ago on one of my West Coast visits to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I had already decided upon several lengths of fabric, when I saw a silk charmeuse, which clearly spoke to me of Pucci. The design was so amazing, the colors so vibrant, and the silk so luscious, that, with a little encouragement from my husband, I added it to my pile. At 60” wide, I thought 2 yards would suffice for a blouse, not really knowing what I would make.
The silk I purchased seemed to have all the bells and whistles of a classic Pucci print. (Pucci’s daughter, Laudomia took over the business after her father’s death, and has continued her father’s signature style.) He only used the finest, luscious fabrics with a color palette “straight from the Aegean horizon” according to the entry on him in The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia ( Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI, 1997, pages 325-326): “turquoise and ultramarine set against sea green and lime, or hot fuchsia and sunflower yellow”. These colors are arranged in “optical fantasies of geometric shapes” which eschew repetitiveness. And, finally, every authentic Pucci fabric carries his discreet “Emilio” signature. (The Vintage Traveler blog has an excellent post on Pucci and his sporty prints, which shows another example of his signature and his diverse designs.)
Shortly after this fabric purchase, I began to get a greater and new appreciation for Pucci’s diversity as a fashion designer as I acquired a few of his Vogue Designer patterns. Instead of featuring styles dependent upon his bright and unusual fabric designs, they showed feminine dresses and jackets, with clean lines and a surprising touch of demureness. Here are the three patterns I purchased:
Some other of his designs for Vogue patterns were featured in Vogue Pattern Book Magazine:
Both the fabric and the patterns sat in hibernation in one of the closets in my sewing room until an idea began to take hold in my mind. I decided I’d like to use one of my Pucci patterns for my authentic Pucci fabric. It just seemed totally logical to me. I measured my fabric again and found I had closer to 2¼ yards. I was envisioning pattern # 1418, with the dress in the silk print, paired with the jacket in black, lined in the same silk. With this plan in mind, I found a lightweight, soft and silky wool/cotton waffle weave in black at Britex Fabrics in early February while I was on the West Coast for Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School Class – perfect for the jacket.
With pattern, fabrics, and a vision, I was ready to go on my next big project. There was only one gnawing question – would I have enough yardage of the Pucci silk to make that sheath-style dress and line the jacket?
The answer to that question – deserves its own Fifty Dresses post!