Marking sixty years of 'Firenze, Hometown of Fashion', this week Emilio Pucci clad the Florence Baptistery in their trademark scarf. In town for Pitti Immagine, i-D visited Laudomia Pucci at her palazzo.
Covering a thousand-year-old church in your signature scarf is possibly the most epic fashion statement a house could make. But for the Pucci family, who only have to look out their hometown window to see the Duomo, draping the Florence Baptistery in Emilio Pucci’s Battistero scarf kind of seemed like the natural thing to do. “The challenge wasn’t so much the idea, but making it happen,” Laudomia Pucci said at last night’s unveiling. The matriarch had opened the courtyard of her family’s fourteenth century Palazzo Pucci to celebrate the monumental art installation marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Florentine fashion council and Pucci’s significance in the city’s fashion (and general) history.
“In Italy we are very protective of our monuments and our churches, and everyone’s been so generous that we’ve been able to do it,” Mrs Pucci said, acknowledging the somewhat extreme nature of the project. “I went to the pizzeria in front of it and I said, “What do you think of it?” And with this terrible dry Florentine sense of humour, they said, ‘We can’t even look at it, it’s so bad!’ And I said, ‘That’s fantastic!’ If they hadn’t criticised it, it wouldn’t be Florence,” she laughed. For a city like Florence, however, integrating fashion into a religious building really couldn’t be more appropriate, and especially with Pucci at the wheel.
During the Renaissance, the family acted as political advisors to the ruling Medici dynasty and is, as such, not only amongst the founding fathers of Florence’s fashion industry but of the city itself. “Every generation brings something to what we do; to our homes, our palaces, our art, our culture. If you can do it, it’s a fantastic opportunity. It’s our duty to do the best we can with what we have,” Mrs Pucci said, walking around the fresco-walled halls of the palace she calls home, which houses one of the best-kept art archives in Italy. “I put a lot more pieces in the country because I didn’t have any more space here,” she confessed.
2014 has been something of a year for old Florence, not just with fashion guests pouring in for the anniversary this week, but with some other rather prominent guests picking the city’s hillside for their wedding in late May. The city’s decision to allow Kanye West and Kim Kardashian to marry at the historical Forte di Belvedere was heavily criticised by Prince Ottaviano de'Medici di Toscana (whose family built the place in the 1590s), who told the Daily Telegraph he was concerned about the renting out of the city’s palazzi “for small change to be used as dance halls.”
Mrs Pucci wasn’t quite as worried. “I’m delighted, I’m delighted! On the weekends between May and June there are always really big foreign parties here. Why not? It brings work. Getting married here is like having a party in a museum,” she said. “I’ve read the most amusing articles on what happened there and I think it’s fantastic – I was giggling – but, you know, would it be different in, say, Florida? They would do it even worse,” Mrs Pucci winked. “This is a city that has many, many extremes.”
Faced with a group of journalists, who couldn’t stop quizzing her about what it’s like to spend your life surrounded by the beauty of Florence, Mrs Pucci said it just feels like home. “But let me tell you what’s always amazing, come with me,” she said and ran into the courtyard to show off a huge canvas of a model posing in a Pucci dress in front of the Duomo. “The view! From the rooms up there,” she pointed, “that’s the view of the Duomo. Breathtaking.”