Born in 1914 to one of Florence’s most illustrious families, the Marquis Emilio Pucci di Barsento naturally embodied the jet set glamour of post-war Italy. Multilingual, well-travelled, American-educated, air force pilot, Olympic skier and aristocrat – he was a Renaissance man in every sense of the term. Recovering in Switzerland after the war, and with the Italian economy in ruins, Pucci made ends meet by teaching Italian and giving ski lessons in Zermatt. It was there that in 1947 a streamlined ski outfit he designed, initially for himself and then for his enthusiastic socialite friends was photographed by a fashion photographer and published in Harper’s Bazaar USA, giving rise to a fashion phenomenon that continues to reverberate to this day.
It was during the ‘50s that Pucci began developing his signature prints: graphic, abstract designs inspired by the world around him – Sicilian mosaics, heraldic banners, Bali Batiks, and African motifs. It was the first time that such pulsing geometric patterns had been incorporated into clothing and the effect was highly original, so much so that the international fashion press, smitten by his bold, radical approach, crowned him “The Prince of Prints”.