European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Designers

Celebrating National Traditions: Emilio Pucci and the “Palio”

1950sEuropean fashionItalian fashion

The story of the collection mixing history modern aspects of glamourous Italian life.

In 1955, Emilio Pucci participated in the great excitement of the Palio di Agosto, a traditional event taking place in Siena, in Italy. The Marquis remained deeply affected by the costumes, colours and above all by the palpable emotion that flowed in that square, which seemed to be the center of the whole world. This is why he decided to dedicate a collection to the Palio, celebrating at once the Tuscan city and Italy as a place of traditions and emotions.

The collection was presented for the first time in Siena. It was composed by 17 models, all portraying the symbols and colours of the different ‘contrade’ of the historic centre: “Civetta”, “Lupa”, “Montone”, “Chiocciola”, “Giraffa”, “Torre”, “Bruco” and “Oca”. The collection was very accurate, and each contrada was dedicated an outfit and a scarf printed on silk twill.

The white and black of the Cathedral marbles, the red of its palaces, the fantastic colours of the Contradas. Here are my inspirations. It may seem strange that I have chosen such a remote theme for my work that has such a modern flavor. But I, today’s Florentine artisan, feel very close to the artisans of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and it is precisely the medieval element of the Palio with its wealth of geometric motifs and color that fascinated me.

Emilio Pucci

The collection was then presented in Florence, at Palazzo Pitti, in 1957 welcoming a huge success, and awarded with the Neiman Marcus Fashion Oscar.

The collection was so special because it re-proposed an analysis of the customs of a symbolic city like Siena, creating a direct link between the present and the past, and making this Tuscan tradition a part of Pucci’s rich heritage.