Designer's daughter poised to continue dynasty


December 27, 1990|By Kimberly Goad | Kimberly Goad,Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — It very nearly was a "cause celebre."

Laudomia Pucci, daughter of 1960s icon Emilio Pucci, attends the Chanel fashion show in Paris last spring wearing a pair of screaming, psychedelic-print leggings with a black jacket and, in the process, practically turns the whole place on its ear. The following day, Suzy Menkes writes an article in the International Herald Tribune proclaiming "Pucci Returns."

Indeed, along with the resurgence of such '60s details as black eyeliner and bouffant hair comes one of the most essential of '60s symbols: Pucci prints.

Although Pucci patriarch Emilio Pucci, "still does everything, basically," Laudomia Pucci and her brother, Alessandro, are poised to continue the dynasty, which got its start almost by accident at a Swiss ski resort in the late 1940s.

By the '60s, such style-setters as Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy were wearing Pucci. And Pucci boutiques had sprung up around the world.

Not quite 30 years later, the Pucci boutique in New York City finds itself turning, in one day, the kind of business it once did in a month. And, increasingly, the Pucci behind Pucci is Laudomia. She talked with a reporter during a recent visit to Fort Worth.

Q: How much say-so have you had in inheriting this life of yours?

A: You have to keep in mind that in Italy, especially in Tuscany, family businesses are there. We have land and we have a wine business. [Fashion] was just part of our family business. My father always wanted me to get into it from a very young age. I started after I graduated [with a degree] in political science from the University of Rome.

Q: You never studied fashion?

A: I never studied fashion and, in a way, I do feel I miss the technical aspects. But I have seen it since I was a kid -- the colors, the style, the elegance, the fashion shows -- since age 4. And then working with my father. We don't have a studio of creators. It's my father who does everything, basically. And now it's with me. He's never wanted designers around because he said they cannot understand.

I don't want to say I'm a designer, but it sort of sinks into you. I represent this continuity, not only in name but in style. I can touch his fabrics and start moving them happily around without giving them a non-Pucci aspect. I am always faithful to his image and idea.

Q: Did you ever go through a period of rebellion where you wanted to strike out on your own?

A: I've always been interested in politics on an academic basis and I would've happily gone on doing it if I'd had nothing in the family.

Q: Have you always worked with your father?

A: Out of school, I went straight to my father for two years and a half. Then, a year and a half with Givenchy in Paris. I got back with my father last September.

Q: How do you account for the resurgence of Pucci?

A: When I started with my father six years ago there was an attempt by an American store, Barneys [New York], to bring the product back. It was a bit too early, but you could feel it coming somehow. We have survived so long because my father's clients have been so faithful and lovely with us. Though they were growing older, they always wanted a Pucci product to buy every season. When Barneys said, "Oh, this would be great, but let's have the lengths shorter or stronger prints or stronger colors," it was something a bit different than the typical collection.

A second reason it came back so strongly is that certain friends came to Florence and decided to do that wonderful spread in Vogue in May.

I was wondering if times were ready, since I had had that experience with Barneys. I said, "OK, let's take it easy. Let's try with Bergdorf's." Bergdorf's [Goodman, in New York] came out with five windows on Fifth Avenue when Vogue was out. They sold the product in one week.

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