The ‘Prince of Prints’ presided over an an­ces­tral home that has re­mained as vi­brant as his fa­mous swirling pat­terns, writes Ja­son Mowen.

VOGUE Living Australia - - ICONIC STYLE -

Dur­ing a trip to New York in 1999, I bought my now-cher­ished copy of the Christie’s cat­a­logue The Per­sonal Prop­erty of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, a mon­u­men­tal book that gave un­usu­ally in­ti­mate in­sight into the ac­tress’s life, as told through the story of her per­sonal pos­ses­sions. Along­side an­no­tated film scripts, Fer­rag­amo stilet­tos and ever-im­mor­talised se­quined frocks, one of the most in­trigu­ing as­pects of the sale was Mon­roe’s ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of one par­tic­u­lar de­signer — her wardrobe of choice when she was not, so to speak, be­ing ‘ Mar­i­lyn’. The de­signer was none other than Emilio Pucci, whose silk jersey shift dresses, which hinted at the com­ing sex­ual revo­lu­tion, the ac­tress col­lected in mul­ti­ple, sher­bet-like hues. If Mon­roe was the quin­tes­sen­tial mod­ern woman be­fore her time, then Pucci was the de­signer for the mod­ern woman, grant­ing her un­prece­dented free­dom of move­ment in his pi­o­neer­ing of lux­u­ri­ous, al­most weight­less stretch fab­rics. Born into one of Florence’s old­est no­ble fam­i­lies in 1914, the March­ese Emilio Pucci di Barsento be­came known as the ‘Prince of Prints’, a play on his aris­to­cratic her­itage as well as his sig­na­ture swirling pat­terns that captured, and even in­formed, the psy­che­delic spirit of the 1960s.

The Pucci story, how­ever, goes back to the early days of the Re­nais­sance, and Emilio was cer­tainly a Re­nais­sance man. He was mul­ti­lin­gual, Amer­i­can-ed­u­cated, an Olympic skier — his first de­signs were in fact ski out­fits — and an air force pi­lot. Af­ter WWII, he es­tab­lished his ate­lier in the Palazzo Pucci in Florence, a grand, Pa­tri­cian pile his fam­ily had oc­cu­pied since 1480. ››

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