Italian designer and manufacturer
Born: Milan, 10 June 1935. Career: Founder, Fiorucci shoes, Milan, 1962-67; director, Fiorucci fashion shop, Galleria Passerella, Milan, selling clothes by Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes, and others, from 1967; began wholesale production of jeans, fashion, and home accessories, 1970; founder, Fiorucci SpA, 1974, and Fiorucci Inc., New York, 1976; opened first American boutique, New York, 1976; founder, Technical Design School, Milan, 1977; opened boutiques in Boston and Los Angeles, 1978; opened stores throughout Europe, U.S., Japan, and Southeast Asia, from 1978; management of label ceded to Carrera, 1989; signed eyewear license with Swan International Optical, 1995; brand relaunched in U.S. with Bennini, Inc., 1997; contributor to Donna magazine, Milan. Exhibition: Italian Re-Evolution, La Jolla Museum of Art, California, 1982. Address: Fiorucci SpA, Galleria Passerella 2, 20122 Milan, Italy. Website: www.fiorucci.com.
Mulassano, Adriana, I Mass-moda: Fatti e Personaggi dell'Italian Look, Florence, 1979.
Babitz, Eve, Fiorucci: The Book, Milan, 1980.
Malossi, Giannino, Liberi Tutti: 20 Anni di Moda Spettacolo, Milan,1987.
Connikie, Yvonne, Fashions of a Decade: The 1960s, London, 1990.
Neustatter, Angela, "Clown Prince," in the Guardian (London), 9August 1978.
Besemer, H. C., "Fiorucci," in Novum Gebrauchsgraphik (Munich),No. 7, 1981.
Jones, Terry, "Mr. Fiorucci: 20 Years of Global Pollution," in I-D (London), September 1987.
Mills, Simon, "Elio Fiorucci, 52, Comes of Age," in the Observer (London), 3 January 1988.
Alden, Tim, "The Key to the Door," in Fashion Weekly (London), 19May 1988.
Tredre, Roger, "Fiorucci: Going Places Again," in Fashion Weekly (London), 28 July 1988.
Morozzi, Cristina, "Orfani di un Mito," in Moda (Milan), August/September 1988.
"Carrera to Get Control of Fiorucci Biz," in the DNR, 14 April 1989.
"Elio Fiorucci Jail Sentence is Suspended," in WWD, 23 January 1996.
D'Innocenzio, Anne, "Cashing in on the 1970s Retro Rage," in WWD, 20 November 1997.
Redecker, Cynthia, "Fiorucci's Foray into the Mall," in WWD, 29April 1999.
Cardona, Mercedes, "Fiorucci Dances Back onto Scene," in Advertising Age, 31 May 1999.
Haber, Holly, and Rusty Williamson, "Seventies Brands Seeking a New Groove," in WWD, 24 June 1999.
Johnston, Robert, "Fiorucci: Where Have They Gone?" in the Sunday Times (London), 19 September 1999.
Kletter, Melanie, "Fiorucci's New Forays," in WWD, 6 July 2000.
"Elio Fiorucci," available online at www.designboom.com, 6 June 2001.
"Vogue: The Fashion Designer Database—Fiorucci, Elio," online at handbag.com, 6 June 2001.
"Fashion Houses: Fiorucci," online at www.made-in-italy.com, 6June 2001.***
Visitors to Milan, Italy, during the late 1960s could not fail to notice a constant crowd trying to enter a narrow-fronted shop in the center of the city. The birth of Elio Fiorucci's boutique caused consternation among the elders and delight among their offspring. Those who traveled the European city circuit in pursuit of fashion and footwear inspiration now ensured that this was one retailer who could not be missed.
Visiting manufacturers and designers fought over the limited stock with local customers. Italy, the accepted home of stylish clothing, had seen nothing like it. It was Fiorucci, more than any other single entrepreneur of the time, who possibly created a worldwide market for the youth culture that first expressed itself in music, then in clothing. In the mid-1960s young people were creating and dictating the fashions they wanted to wear. The skill of Fiorucci, who had his finger on the pulse and brought it into reality, created the visual dreams and recognized the aspirations of this new and hitherto untapped market.
Fiorucci had inherited a shoe store from his father. In 1967, at the age of 32, he added miniskirts brought from what was then "swinging" London. Designs by Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes, and other young English talents soon followed, and the store was gradually enlarged to accommodate a vast range of assorted items. From this embryonic beginning grew a world-famous chain of boutiques, culminating in outlets in New York, Boston, Beverly Hills, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Zurich, and London. Conceived for the youth culture, the stores were constantly filled with new ideas and exciting styles. The atmosphere was unique and the presentation always witty and original. Shopping for clothes was suddenly a different and stimulating experience. The sales assistants were teenagers, too, who helped customers put together the latest looks in fashion clothing, accessories, and even makeup.
Fiorucci was a constant traveler, collecting ideas from around the world, including the original hippie woven bags from Morocco that became so synonymous with the spirit of flower power. A team of designers translated ideas, always seeming to capture the moment— recycling the themes of the 1950s with plastic shoes in riotous colors, fluorescent socks, or graffiti t-shirts. Possibly best remembered of all were the tightly cut, streamlined jeans, which established Fiorucci as a label in the marketplace for many years. At one time, they even replaced Levi's as the most desirable and fashionable shape of the moment.
After this huge success, however, the company fell on hard times in the late 1980s. By 1989 profits had fizzled, and Fiorucci filed for bankruptcy and handed over the management of the label to Carrera, an Italian sportswear manufacturer. Further troubles came when he and five others who had been on the board were accused of bankruptcy fraud and falsifying company reports, to which he pleaded guilty to avoid a long and expensive trial. He has maintained his innocence, however, and stated he was not in control of the company when the alleged abuses took place. Despite the difficulties, Fiorucci stayed involved with clothing design as the company's creative director.
The Fiorucci brand has changed hands multiple times, but was poised to make a comeback in the U.S. in the late 1990s. Bennini Inc., which operated the brand in the U.S., made several unsuccessful attempts to market the clothing through large department store chains and in mall outlets. The company then opened its own megastore on Broadway in New York City with approximately 20 percent of its clothing being Fiorucci, and the remainder coming from other designers.
The company's mark on Italy, on the other hand, has continued to be impressive. Its most popular store, a 1,600-square-meter building sprawled over three levels in Piazza San Babila in Milan opened in 1993 and claimed 7,000 customers daily, with more on holidays. A primary factor in the overwhelming traffic is Fiorucci's uncommon publicity campaigns, such as the 1995 live Wonderbra display or the 1999 live filming of an MTV show on the premises.
Elio Fiorucci, meanwhile, has tried his hand in communications since 1980, producing with Rizzoli USA the film New York Beat and in 1981 cofounding the magazine I-D (Instant Design).
One of the Fiorucci brand's greatest strengths and the reason for its place in fashion history was its ability to control all aspects of advertising, packaging, store design, and merchandising in a clever and original way. It should not be forgotten that Elio Fiorucci was the first to establish what has subsequently become an indispensable part of so many success stories, a Total Concept. His designs strike a balance between nostalgia and the future, transforming the ordinary into hot new fashions with just a few tweaks to the look. He is able to observe a group of teenagers, extract the latest trend, and emerge with a bestselling accessory or item of clothing in the price range of young buyers.
updated by CarrieSnyder