Fiorucci ad, late 1970s
To have an emotional investment in vintage is kind of a self-hating love affair. Spending as much time as we do pouring over imagery, clothing, films, little ephemera that gives us a glimpse into time gone by you can’t help but feel like, no matter how much you read and research, the puzzle is incomplete. Being 22 years old, I’m barely vintage yet, so there’s always this lingering feeling that everything possibly good has already come before me. This is of course a very unproductive and untrue line of thinking but it’s a potent one nonetheless. I felt the sting of this nostalgia for a time before my own last week when I heard of the news of Elio Fiorucci’s passing. Before then, I of course knew of Fiorucci, saw some the ads floating around Tubmlr which are unequivocally incredible, but I really knew nothing about it. So I entered a mode probably not so unfamiliar to most of you, this mode of deep obsession. In the span of a week I had to absorb every drop of information I could unearth on Fiorucci in every crack and crevice of the internet. It was revelatory to say the least. I’m actually a bit shocked it took me so long to invest myself in the world of Fiorucci given how closely related he is to all of my interests which are well documented on this blog.
Fiorucci’s business began in the 1960s in Milan where his vision of youthful excess began. His store was a raucously colored lifestyle free for all, certainly not for the faint of heart. In 1970 he emerged with his own in-house line but it is his New York flagship on East 59th Street, opened in 1976, that is the stuff of legend. Dubbed the “daytime Studio 54” it was fashion’s disco temple for the waking hours. It wasn’t just that the styles were crazy loud and excessive, but Fiorucci himself was also incredibly innovative and insightful. He essentially followed where Biba left off, creating a space that was part department store, part club––a full lifestyle experience. He was the first to bring a DJ into his store, an environment enticing enough to attract the likes of Spanish royalty, Greta Garbo, and Andy Warhol, a motley crew of characters to be sure. Elio is also credited as essentially inventing the stretch skinny jean with his in-house line as well as launching the careers of fashion stalwarts Betsey Johnson, Anna Sui, and illustrator Antonio Lopez, who were all relatively unknown until they were anointed by Fiorucci. Plus his baby tee’s with the iconic Fiorruci cherub logo are still painfully covetable today. Elio mastered what so many people are still trying to do today––the art of branding wherein buying even just a pen or a t-shirt gives you the feeling of buying into something much bigger than the object itself. In this sense Fiorucci was a prolific genius, and it is with a heavy heart that I think of his passing. But thank goodness for the internet to keep the memory alive, and if you are at all interested in reading some first hand accounts of the store’s most outrageous moments, I recommend you take a peak at Paper magazine’s chat with former Fiorucci shop boy Joey Arias. Fiorucci’s heyday may be behind us but I’ll take what I can get.
(L) Divine for Fiorucci. (R) Fiorucci ad, 70s.
(L) Fiorucci ad, 1970s. (R) Fiorucci ad, 1980s.
(L) Andy Warhol and Brooke Shields at Fiorucci's New York store. (R) Halston, Bianca Jagger, Elio Fiorucci, Liza Minelli and Michael Jackson, 1970s.
(L) Fiorucci ad, 1980s. (R) Fiorucci postcard, 1980s.
(L) Fiorucci ad, early 80s. (R) Fiorucci bag design for Via Torino, Milan store from the 70s.
(L) Fiorucci models. (R) Fiorucci window display for Justine and the Victorian Punks, New York, 1979.
The famed Fiorucci cherubs.