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Experimental feature

Born in 1977, some 37 years after the establishment of Emilio Pucci, new creative director Massimo Giorgetti has arrived at the Italian house from MSGM (where he still acts as creative director) with big ideas. He described his first resort collection, in June, as a “pilot episode”; his SS16 was a full mini-series. And one that opened with plot twists.

Giorgetti’s collection looked nothing like the kaftan-swirling, sexy-sixties printed Pucci of his predecessor, Peter Dundas — who has gone off to Cavalli. Instead, he had grabbed the beach-haired Ibiza party girl we all well recognise and set her squarely on the street. There were no trailing scarf dresses and halternecks here, no glossy-limbed sexual heat: rather, Giorgetti delivered a new handwritten “Emilio” logo, multicoloured sequins and encrusted beadwork, asymmetry and pyjama style in sensible city lengths. Most were matched with marabou-feathered fluffy sandals (try kicking sand out of those).

In fairness, Giorgetti remained faithful to the brand’s early, quirky modernist styles and shapes. He had taken the idea of the foulard and used its asymmetric draping to create a new silhouette, a cotton knit in navy and white. Elsewhere, a sequin skirt fell apart at the seams with a petal effect first explored by the house in the 1950s. He had taken the nautical Pucci motifs and totems — the starfish, sea anemone, parrot fish and coral — and woven them as embroidered appliqué over nylon lace. Layering was a big theme: a seagull jacquard silk sat under a white silk dress, laser-cut into a floral print. The kaftan was reborn as pyjamas — or at least, a loose pyjama trouser with a silky trench. “I wanted to translate all the house codes into something modern,” he said backstage. “To take the foulard and make it into something new.”

Did it work? Yes and no. The first looks showed real promise: a fluffy shoe, a pleated lurex skirt, wacky sunglasses with heavy frames, lurid colours. Nice. But I’d seen something very similar the day before at Gucci. Pucci does geek chic? I struggled to reconcile it.

Later looks were even more outré. The tropical fish laces and underwater embroideries were a lot to digest: for all the innovation in approach, the designs seemed a little unoriginal. I thought of Mary Katrantzou’s Pangaea-inspired SS15 show, with its aquatic embroideries and fantastical textures; and of Christopher Kane’s pastel metallics for SS12.

New Pucci chief executive Mauro Grimaldi has only spent 10 days in the job, and this first show announced a bold new direction for the brand. Perhaps they need to turn their back on those loyal customers who went to Pucci for sultry summer-wear fit for beach weddings and holiday hedonism? Maybe a brand can’t be sustained on va-va-vacation wear? Dundas will presumably take those clients to Cavalli anyway. So, what’s to lose?

Yes, the brand codes here were all well represented. And yet this was a real break with recent history. But was it urban cool enough? I’m not so sure.

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Photographs: Catwalking.com

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