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A short history of Fiorucci

An angelic reboot

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What comes to mind when they hear the name Fiorucci? The Sister Sledge song? The Mark Leckey short film? I guess the most obvious would be the iconic two angel t-shirt that made a come back in the late ’90s/early 2000’s or maybe even discounted perfumes at your local chemist. Either way the true affect the brand had on the course of fashion will hopefully be realised in the coming months as the brand rises, again, from the ashes. The brand is now in its fourth set of hands over the decades (having passed through Benetton and Edwin) with the English taking a turn in the brands fiftieth year.

Like all good fashion houses Fiorucci started with a name: Elio Fiorucci. He was born in the Italian fashion capital of Milan into a poor shoemaking family. In 1965 after a trip to London’s iconic Carnaby St he set about bringing some of that dandy-ness back to his hometown. His merchant approach to buying and selling saw his boutique stocking everything from music, to shoes, and accessories; he went about culturally appropriating everything from Brazilian thong swimwear to traditional Mexican jewellery. He was also the original collaborator, at least as we know the term now, working with Disney in 1981 and Vivienne Westwood in 1989.

The brand’s biggest impact was felt in New York where much of the brands dizziness and neon aesthetic had been drawn from, despite the designer’s preferred residence being in the countryside near Lake Como. Opening in 1976 on the cusp of the disco boom, the brand soared with its unique nightclub type feel and celebrity clientele, earning it the nickname the ‘daytime Studio 54’. In a somewhat revolutionary retail approach the stores space was used for everything from Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine launches, in store music performances, and as an art spaces. The interior featured design by Ettore Sottas, with Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring routinely painting the store’s interiors.

Elio managed to create something that transcended what fashion houses were capable of and possibly won’t be capable of again. He sponsored the Inter Milan football team as well as the free Simon & Garfunkel open air reunion concert in New York, he financed Glenn O’Brien’s (RIP) Downtown 81, threw parties at Studio 54 and Pacha in Ibiza. On the negative side his trashy chic aesthetic, introduction of Lycra into jeans, and refusal to make sizes bigger than a 10, has probably in equal parts lead to influencing much of the current state of whats now deamed fast fashion today and much of the reason why the early 2000’s reboot failed to compete against the newer markets.

In recent years the brands enormous catalogue of graphics have seen a resurgence, being licensed out to Dolce & Gabana’s SS15 t-shirt range and borrowed heavily from the likes of Palace Skateboards. This has in part due to the exposure from London’s IDEA books who put the 1981’s Fiorucci: The Book and 1984’s sticker book on blast, the 1984 sticker collection with Italy’s Panini, better known for their football stickers. These pulled together unique designs from the likes of Alesandro Mendini from the Memphis Group, Terry Jones (who went on to found i-D magazine) and Italo Lupi who appropriated the brands iconic cherub logo. It was a wise move on the new owners front to leave much of the visual work up to the team at IDEA because the company’s Instagram is the correct balance of cultural intrigue and nostalgia.

After rolling out small capsule collections in stores like 10 Corso Como and Barney’s and a concession in Selfridges complete with customisable MA-1 bomber’s. Another interesting inclusion is a denim jacket with (what could be) a potentially controversial appropriation of the Hell’s Angels banner script, but I guess time and bikies reactions will tell. The store has now opened on Brewer St in London in the site of an old vintage magazine shop, to much fanfare and features a café and a sound system by Mickey Boyle who built the club space in LN-CC.

It’s a shame that Elio who passed away in 2015 won’t be around to see his brand reach yet another generation.

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