Emilio Pucci, the Italian designer known for striking, geometric patterns and wildly (but always tightly conceived) variegated colors in his fashion work, was born 100 years ago this past November, in Naples. A member of an old Florentine noble family, Pucci studied in the United States (the University of Georgia and Reed College in Oregon); flew as a bomber pilot in the Italian Air Force in World War II; served in the Italian Chamber of Deputies; and, in his long career as a designer, founded and guided a celebrated label embraced by movie stars (Sophia Loren), style icons (Jackie Kennedy) and royalty (Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway).
His influence, meanwhile, extended well beyond the runway, working with NASA on the distinctive Apollo 15 mission patch, for example, and the American airline, Braniff Airways, on a complete re-imagining of its aesthetic in the mid-1960s.
“Gaiety is one of the most important elements I brought to fashion,” Pucci once said. “I brought it through color.”