An Inside Look At The Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub
Mention the name “Pucci” and what immediately comes to mind for many are vivid, vibrantly patterned prints that characterised the psychedelic aesthetic of the Swinging Sixties. Yet, despite the passage of time, the Pucci brand continues to loom large in the global fashion scene as it still presents a range of exquisitely designed and styled collections of clothing and accessories.
Keeping this in mind, one wonders how a brand that first came to the world’s attention in 1947 continues to be relevant in the present day despite the increasingly competitive nature of the fashion industry. Perhaps the best answer would be to say that Pucci is a brand that holds its storied past and rich heritage in high regard even as it works progressively towards the future. This can be seen in the creation of the Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub in Florence, Italy.
Laudomia Pucci, the founder’s daughter and current vice-chairman and image director for Emilio Pucci SRL, says that this unique heritage hub is aimed towards connecting everyone—partners and friends, au courant fashionistas, fashion historians—to the Pucci brand. For her, it is also a way of strengthening corporate culture through the provision of a strong link to the brand’s history.
As she puts it, “We aim to develop our company’s culture by working on [Pucci’s] roots and producing corporate trainings, events, collaborations, and conversations that position our unique br and heritage in a contemporary context.”
Initiated in June 2017 and officially introduced to the public during the April 2018 run of Apriti Moda (an annual event wherein the different houses of Italian haute couture open their doors to the public over a two-day period), the Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub was, essentially, envisioned to become a bridge between the past and the present as a way of moving forward towards the brand’s future. In which case, it serves as an incubator of the brand’s DNA; a repository of archives where its culture and history are kept alive; and a place where fresh new talents are fostered and nurtured. Since its inception, it has been maintained by a heritage team led by project manager Giulia Binotto. Along with archival work and conservation, the team is responsible for doing relevant research and innovative brand communication through events and exhibitions held at the Hub.
“[Over the past two years], we have launched two events involving artistic installations that would tell the story of our brand,” Laudomia says of the first activities held at the Hub. “The first installation was in partnership with Bonaveri—one of Italy’s historic mannequin producers— where six-metre-tall hand-painted mannequins led visitors to discover Pucci’s history and present through codes, symbols, and materials.”
The second event which was held earlier this year was the launch of a new book, Unexpected Pucci, published by Rizzoli New York. The event featured another installation wherein key elements from the book took centre stage.
A Vibrant Venue
Palazzo Pucci, the Pucci Family’s ancestral keep in the heart of Florence, is a 13th-century structure which has been transformed into a multi-disciplinary centre of fashion and design education: a living archive that aims to honour the achievements of the past, as well as foster rising contemporary talents.
Located along the Via de’ Pucci, this medieval palace may have retained its original archaic charm on the outside, but its interiors have been retooled entirely to give visitors a thoroughly immersive experience into the colourful world of design.
“Pucci is extremely visual as a brand, so it was important for us to create a space that reflects our identity beyond our prints and the archives on display,” Laudomia says of the palazzo’s renovation. “This is why we renovated [the palazzo] to suit its new scope of work, with rooms specifically dedicated to our brand codes.
“The whole idea is to attract young talents to the new space—people who can benefit and work with the tremendous history housed in our archives, while immersing themselves in a beautiful place that represents the history of Florence and where Italian fashion was born.”
When Emilio Pucci started the brand in the late ‘40s, the palazzo’s piano nobile (first floor) and the lower ground floor were all commandeered to serve as its design studio, offices, workshops, and showrooms. When the company headquarters were moved to Milan in 2017, it was decided that the palazzo would be reinvented as a way of preserving the senior Pucci’s legacy without necessarily transforming the space into a staid museum. The end result: an eye-popping space that truly brings the brand’s brilliant aesthetic to the forefront.
Visitors entering the Hub are welcomed in by a splash of colour, as the ground floor and piano nobile are both swathed in a fuchsia and turquoise carpet made with sustainable materials. Colour is a key point in the Hub’s interiors as seen in the way its iconic boutique—the same place where original collections were displayed for over four decades—references the brand’s enormous colour library.
Another location of note is a grand videotheque with a distinctive modern look and feel designed by the iconic Italian architect-designer Piero Lissoni. Here, one can watch archive videos from previous runway shows and events while lounging in plush Gaetano Pesce chairs from B&B Italia.
Vivara, the print that put Pucci in the global spotlight, has its own unique space in the Hub. The pattern can be seen on the wallpaper that decks the space where mannequins wrapped in a limited re-release of the Vivara-patterned scarf are on display.
Even Pucci’s foray into home accents is given its own niche. Here, spaces come to life with the funky, futuristic, Pucci print-upholstered Rive Droite chairs designed by Patrick Norguet for Cappellini. The brand’s line of geometric-patterned rugs is also on display, as are Pucci-designed wall tiles for the Italian tile-maker Bisazza.
But the Heritage Hub is more than just another historical archive. Indeed, it is a dynamic venue for fashion and design education that is allied with some of the foremost institutions in the industry.
At present, it has an ongoing exchange partnership with Stanford University in the United States where a select group of students is taken on for a 10-week internship programme per semester. The Heritage Hub also has partnerships with the École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL) in Switzerland which helped develop the Hub’s official website, Central Saint Martins in London, and Florentine fashion institute Polimoda.
“We have created a virtual reality experience with ECAL based on the story behind our scarves,” Laudomia explains. “Central Saint Martins and Polimoda, on the other hand, have been cataloguing and digitising our brand archives for the past 20 years. They also work with us for trainings or other projects.”
As Pucci is part of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) Group, it has also opened its doors to Les Journées Particulières, a series of events that showcases the diversity of the conglomerate’s numerous maisons to the public. This has been instrumental in presenting the rationale behind the creation of the Hub and the importance of its work to the industry in general.
“We presented an impressive installation of images that clearly show how much—and how vital—the cataloguing of images, sketches, and drawings is needed by a heritage company,” Laudomia says.
It is expected that, over time, the Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub will continue to evolve as both a centre for learning as well as a shrine of sorts to the every-changing nature of global fashion.
“I am pleased with the accomplishments we have achieved so far, but we want everything to develop organically and become a natural continuation of our past as seen through the eyes and emotions of the younger generation,” Laudomia says fervently of her hopes for the institution. “I like to think of the space as something that changes and evolves, retaining its fundamentals but always creating surprising new things.”
This article was originally published in the September 2019 Issue of Philippine Tatler
- Images Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub