European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Designers

Emilio Pucci: Siciliana!

1950sItalian fashionItalian style

In 1956, the designer’s Italian Grand-Tour stopped in the beautiful setting of Sicily, between classical references and neorealist modernism

In 1956, Marquis Emilio Pucci designed a collection inspired by the architecture and traditions of Sicily. The name of the collection was, indeed, ‘Siciliana’, and was one of the many the Italian designer dedicated to the beauties and peculiarities of his homeland.

The collection featured dresses and shirts typical of the style of the marquis: silk and kaleidoscopic prints, all reminding details of Sicilian traditional productions and also of the past of the land, characterized by Greek and then Roman domination.

Interestingly, the collection was also rich in bathing suits and bikinis, all very colorful and daring and headpieces inspired by the vegetation of the land.

The collection was shown in the Sala Bianca in Florence, but were the photographs documenting this collections to make the whole collection iconic. This especially because of the choice of locations: Pucci decided to shoot at Villa Romana del Casale, a Roman villa built in the first quarter of the 4th century in Sicily, not far from Piazza Armerina. The excavations to bring the Villa back to light began in 1929 and concluded some thirty years later. Emilio Pucci and photographer Elsa Haertter had the opportunity to picture the designer’s swimwear right in the surroundings of Piazza Armerina, playing with the ‘theme’ of the roman mosaics. The mosaics in fact depicted a group of roman girls wearing the ‘subligacum’: an item resembling a modern bikini, whose Latin name literally means “to tie underneath”.