Remembering Elio Fiorucci: the pioneer of stretch jeans
A week after the death of Elio Fiorucci, we look back at the career highs of a designer who first defined the concept of democratic fashion and draw a retrospective of a man who should not be forgotten.
Elio Fiorucci, born in Milan in 1935, started his career by following in his father’s footsteps and working in the family’s slipper shop. But it was clear his brilliant personality couldn’t remain limited to that any longer; Fiorucci was first of all an intelligent tradesman, as he often remarked himself, and understood he needed to add something more to his life in order to really stand out.
After a trip to London he remained completely fascinated by the swinging atmosphere of the 60s, from the markets in Camden and Portobello, where you could always discover emerging designers and underground artists. He decided to bring a bit of that freshness and open-minded retail attitude to Italy, which has always been dominated, instead, by quite a claustrophobic attachment to tradition and old schemes.
His first shop opened in Galleria Passerella in 1967 and in 1970 he officially founded his brand, marked by the logo with the two Victorian baby angels reinterpreted by the architect Italo Lupi; then he expanded his domain by opening two shops in Milan. The San Babila one represented the Italian scene – something completely new and different, even quirky for the times. He proposed an extravagant formula which combined beauty, fashion, home décor and even a bar and a space for people to socialise inside the shop. All the new trends from Carnaby Street were showcased and you could hear the newest hits from London and New York’s fervent music scenes. Fiorucci was the voice of youth; of a revolution in fashion coming directly from the streets.
In 1975 he opened a store in London and one year later in New York. Fiorucci was a real visionary and he truly understood the importance of street style and the influence that art, music and lifestyle have on fashion.
The store in Park Avenue, NY, quickly became a meeting spot for celebrities and upcoming talents. Entering the store, the sensation was like being catapulted into a scandalous party, with people dancing, wearing the most extravagant clothing and make-up, while artists and musicians were performing from the windows.
Fiorucci also was a habitué at the big parties of the historical Studio 54 and organised the Grand Opening in 1977 by walking in a young and at the time unknown Madonna, introducing her to the international jet set. People like Andy Warhol, Cher, Bianca Jagger and Liza Minelli were great fans and friends of the designer, gravitating around the Park Avenue Store.
Another big merit of the designer was the invention of the stretch jeans. In 1982, Du Pont launched Lycra and Fiorucci had the bright idea to mix it with denim, giving birth to a new kind of jeans: feminine, tight and seductive.
Fiorucci sadly died on the 20th of July 2015 at the age of 80; the fashion industry has certainly lost one of their most talented trend forecasters.