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"Prince of Print"


by Nicoletta de Menna

"To the Marquis Emilio Pucci - Palazzo Pucci - Via de 'Pucci 6 - Florence" This is the addressee and address of an important letter that in 1954 communicates the attribution to the Marquis Emilio Pucci di Barsento of the Neiman Marcus Award, the prestigious Oscar of American fashion. Passionate visionary eclectic…. "The Prince of Prints" (as he was acclaimed in the United States, a country that has always loved him very much) has outlined a personal and indelible path in the fashion scene that still today evokes freedom, lightness and a certain polite irreverence.

Emilio arrives at Moda almost by chance: after the Second World War just ended, he continued to work as a ski instructor in Sestriere; easy for him who in 1936 participated with the Italian national team in the Winter Olympics. Less obvious is a very happy and creative hand that designs some decidedly innovative ski outfits. The spark is missing, which comes in the form of a now legendary photograph in which Pucci helps a charming Toni Frissel wearing one of her ski creations in the snow with very elegant gestures. The shot is published by Harper's Bazaar, success is immediate.

After only 3 years in 1950 he opened his first boutique in Capri: the enchanting island is becoming one of the favorite destinations of wealthy Americans traveling to Europe, and Pucci is there. The collective fashion shows follow, first at Casa Giorgini in 1951 and then in the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti in 1952. The Oscar della Moda of 1954 consecrates an established star who will enlarge and consolidate the colorful and always fascinating world of Pucci without neglecting civic commitment. : Municipal Councilor in Florence, Deputy of the Republic, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Cavaliere del Lavoro…. Emilio Pucci's life almost seems to be longer than the others, with more days, more months, more years!

The part that fascinates me the most, however, is that of the early years. Born in 1914 after participating in the 1936 Olympics, he continued his studies in the United States. In 1938 he enlisted in the Royal Air Force where he distinguished himself, despite a thousand personal difficulties and of the historical period, until he was awarded the War Cross for Military Valor and 3 Silver Medals for Military Valor.

Returning to Florence after the Armistice of 8 September, he is joined by Edda Ciano Mussolini to whom he is linked by a historical friendship. The Duce's daughter was deported to Munich after the Armistice with the children she left hostage to temporarily return to Italy in an attempt to save the life of her husband Galeazzo in prison in Verona. He hopes to do so by brandishing the threat to make public the diaries of Ciano, feared by Mussolini and Hitler, sought by the Allies. The inner battle must have been tearing, the diaries disappear, it is said that only to Pucci he confided where they are. Having failed to save his life in Galeazzo, Emilio accompanies Edda to Switzerland where his children are waiting for him (the price for his silence), but on his return to Italy he is arrested by the Gestapo and taken to the Milanese prison of San Vittore where he will be for a long time interrogated and tortured without ever, neither in that circumstance nor in the future, to reveal where they had been hidden.

Released from prison, he was transferred and treated in the hospital in Lugano, I imagine for a gesture of gratitude from his friend, where he remained until the end of the war. Away from home and family, he found work as a ski instructor in Zermatt from where he moved to Sestriere in 1947. The rest we know.

I told you that her life seems to be longer than the others!



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