Frockin’ awe­some

This Fausto Puglisi dress from Holt Ren­frew came to hang in the #ELLECanadaCloset

ELLE (Canada) - - StoryBoard - BY CHAR­LOTTE HER­ROLD

fausto Puglisi is the kind of man who could make you be­lieve any­thing. I no­tice this al­most as soon as I sit down across from him at Holt Ren­frew in Toronto, where his name­sake brand is car­ried ex­clu­sively in Canada. When the Si­cil­ian-born fash­ion up-and-comer starts com­par­ing the de­sign process to good sex (“You don’t want to sec­ond-guess or think too much or it’s ter­ri­ble”), I ac­tu­ally feel my face red­den. But be­sides his looks (and that Ital­ian ac­cent), his charm is rooted in how as­sured he is in his vi­sion.

“I al­ways knew I wanted to be a designer,” Puglisi tells me. “Since I was four or five years old, it was an ob­ses­sion. Many de­sign­ers have said ‘I wanted to be an ar­chi­tect or some­thing else and then de­cided to do fash­ion,’ but I grew up with this am­bi­tion. I knew I was go­ing to be big.”

Puglisi came of age in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the most piv­otal pe­riod in Ital­ian fash­ion. Gior­gio Armani and Gianni Versace were at the apex of forg­ing their ri­val style philoso­phies: Armani’s easy el­e­gance and crisp tailor­ing ver­sus Versace’s in-your-face ex­cess and sex ap­peal. “It was like a foot­ball match,” he re­calls. “If you were with Versace, then you couldn’t be with Armani.” As for who in­spired the young tal­ent the most? “Versace, for sure,” he says, ges­tur­ing to a rack of bold-print, OTT-em­bel­lished, neon-splashed dresses and sep­a­rates from his fall/win­ter 2015 col­lec­tion, which ref­er­ences Diana Vree­land and Yves Saint Lau­rent’s muse Loulou de la Falaise. Since launch­ing his la­bel in 2010 and be­ing named cre­ative direc­tor at Emanuel Un­garo in 2012, Puglisi has of­ten been com­pared to the late Mr. Versace—his clothes are not for the faint of heart. “I de­sign for strong per­son­al­i­ties,” he says. It’s no sur­prise, then, that many peo­ple first heard his name when his sexy sil­hou­ettes were worn by celebs known for their brazen style, like Madonna, Katy Perry and Ken­dall Jen­ner. (Jen­ner’s in­fa­mous hip-high slits on the MuchMu­sic Video Awards red car­pet in­stantly made her a house­hold name.)

But while he ad­mits that the prospect of a celebrity fol­low­ing ex­cited him when he was in his 20s, the designer, now 39, says that th­ese days he is most in­spired by Ital­ian clas­si­cism—and how to trans­late that dra­matic op­u­lence into a brave new way for­ward for the fash­ion in­dus­try. In his fall/win­ter col­lec­tion, this pre­sented as punky moto jack­ets el­e­vated with baroque crosses and colour-blocked asym­met­ri­cal minidresses decked out with be­jew­elled sun­burst medal­lions—all worn with com­bat boots. “Mi­lan is get­ting very old; it needs re­fresh­ing,” he says, stretch­ing his arm across the back of the couch. “In Lon­don, New York and Paris, you find amaz­ing new de­sign­ers. I don’t see any­one as strong as me in the younger gen­er­a­tion. I want to be what’s new in Italy.” n

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