In 1966 the Arno River flooded Palazzo Pucci, wiping out part of designer Emilio Pucci’s workshop. Though the company was able to recover from the incident, the threat had not abated as its archives had periodically been plagued by flooding problems until around 2012. Taking the risks into account, his daughter Laudomia Pucci transferred the pieces from the archives to Villa di Granaiolo, the family’s 150-acre estate in Castelfiorentino, and one of her father’s most beloved properties. The restoration process was extensive, lasting approximately four winters long.
Laudomia notes that the archives remain challenging to maintain to this date. Everything from the dresses to the fabrics down to the sketches and the photographs have been classified accordingly and stored in temperature-controlled rooms. Garments are hung in wooden closets painted with non-acid coats to avoid damage. She also spearheaded the building of the Talent Centre, a multi-purpose space meant for trainings and workshops. It was—and still is—a labour of love for Laudomia. “Some of my best childhood memories happened at Granaiolo,” she says. “I would spend much time lounging by the pool or riding horses with my friends. To renovate it into a space for Pucci as a brand was to give it another dimension. Aside from being a home to the archives, it is a place for students to learn new skills and experiment with their creativity.”
Her Father's Daughter
Well-dressed models from all over the world sporting elaborate hairdos being photographed on the rooftop. Biannual fashion shows coming to a close with thunderous applause. A father working with bolts of vibrant solids and striking prints one moment, and jetting off to another country at the next. This is merely a rough sketch of Laudomia’s colourful childhood at the Palazzo Pucci. “We, as children, perceive the environment we live in as what is ordinary,” she says. “Emilio Pucci the father, though strict, enjoyed spending time with his children. We were taught to ski, swim, and ride—we were highly active. He also made sure we learnt how to speak English. Emilio Pucci the designer was a tornado; highly particular when it came to details, eloquent when expressing his ideas, and so animated when at work.” In her early years, Laudomia perceived fashion as something Emilio was strongly passionate about. It was only later that she realised what an influential figure he truly was.
Laudomia did not see herself following in her famous father’s footsteps. She had entertained the prospect of going into politics, but that path was not hers to tread. “Back then, when you were born into a traditional Italian family with its own business, you did not have the option to choose your own career,” she reflects. “My father made the decision for me, but I eventually learnt to love fashion. It became my passion, too.” The apple certainly did not fall too far from the tree in that regard. Laudomia spent two years working with Hubert de Givenchy before finally joining Emilio. At the age of 28, she stepped into the role of CEO to relive her ailing father, fully embracing her duties as heir to the Pucci brand.
A Sense of Identity
Last May, Villa di Granaiolo was a participant in Les Journées Particulières, an event that allows the public to see and experience the craftsmanship of the LVMH fashion houses. Guests had the opportunity to witness Pucci’s dress and pattern makers, designers, and stylists at work. “Opening Granaiolo to opportunities such as this is a way for me to give back,” Laudomia adds. “This way, Pucci takes part in contributing to the education of the young ones, who are full of enthusiasm and have all sorts of new ideas.”
Laudomia has clearly made her own mark in the fashion industry. In 2000, she had sold a majority stake of Pucci shares to French multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, but still remains active as its image director. Though LVMH owns most of Pucci, Laudomia, in her own words, is representative of a continuing legacy. She treasures her role as a guardian, the keeper of her father’s keys. At the same time, she is her own woman; one who opened the doors of Granaiolo to share the world of Pucci to aspiring designers. “As the fashion world changes and evolves, we move forward with it, always making sure that we keep our sense of coherence and continuity intact,” Laudomia says. “Pucci must always stay true to itself.”
Photography by Wesley Cruz Villarica | Art Direction by Anton San Diego