As far as hallowed Renaissance ground goes, it doesn’t get more mega than Florence. Beautiful enough to have spawned the Stendhal Syndrome, it’s monumental art and architecture at its most sacred. So to drive past the octagonal Baptistery of San Giovanni – one of the city’s most historic structures – and see it covered in Emilio Pucci’s colourful 1957 Battistero motif depicting the building is a brilliant meta-kind-of shock of the new.
“I went into the pizzeria in front of the Baptistery and said ‘well, what do you think of it?’ And in her terribly dry, Florentine sense of humour the owner said ‘We can’t even look at it, it’s so bad’. It was fantastic. If she hadn’t criticized it, she wouldn’t be Florentine!” Laudomia Pucci said with a great, roaring laugh as she greeted a group of writers at Palazzo Pucci on Tuesday night to celebrate the unveiling of the installation of her father’s bright, bold sketch as part of Pitti Uomo and the 60th anniversary for the Centre of Florence for Italian Fashion.
Home to the Pucci clan for 600-plus years, Palazzo Pucci is still the centre of the Pucci empire and its archives, placed delicately between non-acid paper and held in labelled wooden armoires. “In the country I have a lot more because I didn’t have any more space in here,” Pucci said before steering us out into the courtyard, going “We have this little view up there,” pointing to the roof and then to a large-scale archive image of models in Pucci prints from spring/summer 1967, casually posing on the Palazzo roof with the Duomo right next door. That’s just how they roll at Pucci.
Underscoring the dynamic between fashion and architecture, the installation next door of the cubist-like motif bridges heritage fashion and history with cheeky irreverence. “There’s lots of irony in the scarf as well – you see the little chickens walking in front of the Baptistery,” Pucci said with a smile, adding. “You know, you know your archives and your special pieces and at the end of the day, the challenge is taking something that familiar and bringing it alive. When you have all these beautiful jewels, you have to show them.”
So what does it feel like to be part of a legacy like Pucci, a family whose history includes acting as long-standing political advisors to the Medicis? “Well, you feel like you’re part of a chain. You’re handing it over to somebody else so you can go ‘hey! I’ve done my job,” Pucci laughed. “Every generation, we try to bring something to what we do, to our homes, our palaces, our art. If you manage to do it, if you can do it, it’s a fantastic opportunity. You normally can’t do it on your own. You need a lot of energetic people around you to show you the way.”