Emilio Pucci Talks To The WSJ The Fashion House Is Not All Psychedelic Patterns Anymore Their New Fashions You May Not Even Recognize

Mr. Dundas joined Pucci just over a year ago, and his third collection is about to be shipped to stores for fall. In that relatively short time, he has already captured a new, younger audience for the brand. At its core, the image is decadent, chic party animal (of the heiress sort).

"Since Peter has come on board, he's taken it beyond 'I'm-going-to-wear-it-on-vacation,' " says Petra Flannery, a Hollywood stylist who dressed actress Zoe Saldana for the Los Angeles premier of "Star Trek" last year in a Pucci dress with a snake slithering around the torso and mesh cut-outs. She put starlet Hayden Panettiere in form-fitting Pucci for a number of public appearances, including the World Music Awards in Monaco last month.
Before Mr. Dundas's arrival at the brand, red-carpet appearances were rare. Ms. Flannery says she used Pucci only in shoots for swimwear and beachy editorial spreads.
"We were doing the same look every season," Didier Drouet, Pucci's chief executive, conceded after the brand's fall 2010 runway show in Milan.
Pucci's new emphasis spurred Saks Fifth Avenue to create a space for it on its venerable third floor in New York for this fall. Saks will feature Pucci's new cocktail and evening gowns. Saks will also devote its Fifth Avenue windows to Pucci between Sept. 2 and Sept. 9.
Before now, Saks sold Pucci clothes only at stores in places like Boca Raton and Naples, in Florida, and Phoenix. "We thought it was more of a resort, warm-weather collection," says Joseph Boitano, Saks' women's general merchandising manager. Now, Mr. Boitano says, Mr. Dundas "really is attracting a very young customer."

The emergence of solids is a nod to the fact that there are only so many Pucci patterns that a woman's closet can hold.
But there is a risk here of losing the iconic look of the brand. It can be difficult these days to recognize a Pucci when you see it. When Carrie appeared in a swirling, gray Pucci gown in the recently released "Sex and the City 2," I wouldn't have known it was Pucci without the movie notes. Clothes that look generic may not work to build the brand's image.
Still, the Pucci family itself is loving the new look. "I hate the stereotypes of Pucci, the psychedelic pop," says Laudomia Pucci, the daughter of Emilio Pucci, who founded the brand. "Peter has shaken that up."
It's a ticklish task to dial down the target age of a luxury brand without losing its older, wealthiest customers. Mr. Boitano says Pucci is managing that by continuing to create plenty of prints and simpler dresses. On Mr. Dundas's runway, the prints are often still there—though they're sometimes dyed an unexpected color like deep burgundy, and the clothes can be so revealing that they border on lewd.
These days, the role of a designer at a brand goes way beyond making clothes. Mr. Dundas's arrival at Pucci is re-setting the image of the house, which is owned by the Pucci family and luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
The original designer, Mr. Pucci, was a Florentine aristocrat who began by making bathing suits and reached his calling as a designer in his 40s. His wildly colored, geometric designs and simple silhouettes drew attention in the 1950s and 1960s. Marilyn Monroe was buried in Pucci.
After Mr. Pucci's death in 1992, Pucci clothes were created by a succession of designers known for their use of color and patterns, including Christian Lacroix and Matthew Williamson.
Now, Pucci is following the playbook of other European luxury brands, from Louis Vuitton to Ferragamo, that have branched into every possible product line. Mr. Drouet is busy building licensing relationships: Expect to see more Pucci handbags, shoes, fragrances, ties and sunglasses. Original article.


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