Having previously lamented about the lack of summer in the UK (although it’s turning up right about now), I thought I’d roll back time to when I was in the Tuscan hills, taking in the spiritual home of Emilio Pucci.  It’s rare that I get to go see the roots of Italian powerhouses unlike their French counterparts.  Either they’re remote stable secrets or they’re not open to the likes of me.  Pucci, though being part of the LVMH Group was a participant of the “Les Journées Particulières” programme, where for a weekend back in May, they threw the doors open to the Villa Granaiolo, forty minutes outside of Florence, so that they could learn about Pucci’s heritage and history.  This idyllic Renaissance-era Tuscan villa has been in the Pucci family since the 16th century, and it was one of Emilio Pucci’s favourite residences, which is why his daughter Laudomia decided to transfer some of the house’s archives here to create a private museum as well as creating a dedicated space to training students in the ways of print design.

Whilst I was in Florence for Pitti, Pucci were kind enough to extend the opening of this special exhibition so that we could take in the splendour of the villa itself – and inhale some of that slowed-down Tuscan pace that in some ways is related to Pucci’s associations with the sun-worshipping jet set, as well as an exhibition that delves into the elements that make Pucci’s aesthetic so distinctive, whether it’s the original prints by Emilio, or by subsequent successors like Matthew Williamson, Peter Dundas and now of course, Massimo Giorgetti.

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Before we began to delve into the exhibition, we got to take in the most Pucci pieces of furniture I think there is.  An outdoor arrangement of oversized padded seating covered in a swirl of Neapolitan-esque pink and yellow.  It’s the sort of furniture that naturally invites you to lounge about in the sort of printed caftans, stretch fabric swimwear and towelling jumpsuits that Emilio pioneered.  Wrapping around the main house is a cleverly proportioned staircase lawn, designed by Niccolo Grassi, mirroring the geometric lines of some of Pucci’s archive prints.  From here you can catch a glimpse of a delicious looking swimming pool that again, ties in with that Pucci lifestyle. 

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The exhibition though revealed to me aspects of Pucci’s history unbeknownst to me.  Curated by historian Maria Luisa Frisa.  It bears reminding the innovative nature of Pucci’s history in that he successfully exported an Italian aesthetic abroad on a large scale, by its ability to create ready-made sizes in a plethora of colour and print variations.  The first things you see in the exhibition space are the glass fronted wardrobes of colour-arranged capri trousers in shades that are custom Pantone colours with at least thirty shades of “Rosa” pink.  Laid out in sections of ‘Forms’, ‘Materials’ and ‘Patterns’, you can explore Pucci’s universe from its mid-20th century beginnings to the present day with Giorgetti taking on the modern Prince of Prints mantle.

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There’s of course the scarf tops/tunics and jumpsuits that make up the ‘Forms’ sections, ranging from the fluid to the structured.  There’s the distinctly Pucci materials such as the stretch jerseys, silks and towelling and chenille fabrics.  Across ready to wear and accessories, Pucci’s prints of course come to the fore, exploring thematic umbrellas such as monochrome, optical, orientalist and landscapes.  There’s also an intriguing display of Pucci accessories from across the decades that include splendid oddities such as a papal-esque velvet printed hat or a pair of calcio Florentino (a historic form of football) canvas shoes.  The links across the house’s numerous designers can clearly be seen in the exuberance of everything.  Behind the mannequins, lies the bulk of Pucci’s archives hanging on wardrobes.  It’s the rail rifling of dreams for any print enthusiast, which is why Villa Granaiolo is regularly open to students from Central Saint Martins, Polimoda and ECAL in Lausanne to come and explore the archives and work on their own projects in the attached ‘Talent Centre’.

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As the Villa isn’t strictly speaking open to the public outside of the Journées Particulières programme, it felt like a privilege to come by this tucked away Pucci-world (or Pucci-verse).  It’s hard to look at this curated display of buoyant clothes and not away thoughts of sun-drenched days.  They’re somewhere around the corner.

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Resee is a word that is part of the working vocabulary of fashion weeks, referring to the less glamorous portion in-between shows, when you go and literally “resee” a collection in a showroom. If you were late for the show or couldn’t make it for some reason, then it’s often a see-see rather a resee. The word is therefore automatically associated with work.

During Paris Fashion Week though, I discovered a different side to the word through a new-ish vintage site Resee.com.  Do we need another you might ask?  On their About page, Resee.com describes itself as a “new concept website that fuses rare vintage and the best in second-hand clothing with unparalleled, high fashion editorial style.”  Resee.com is a collaborative effort founded by Sofia Bernardin and Sabrina Marshall, who previously worked at Vogue and Self Service and are able to amass a selection of designer pieces that pick up on key moments of fashion post 1960 from their network of industry “sources”.

For better or for worse, it’s “curated” designer vintage, which has become something of a weak spot for me over the years.  It’s an obsession that has progressed from trawling eBay, to scouring vintage and consignment stores all over the world (with particular attention to Tokyo) and now to persistently browsing sites like sites like TheRealReal, Vestiaire Collective (and a whole host of others).  Or if I’m really looking for something special, Kerry Taylor Auctions and 1st Dibs comes calling too (although I do think the prices for the latter are grossly exorbitant).  It’s the process of the unpredictable hunt in this kind of shopping, that I find the most rewarding, when you emerge with a garment that feels significant and doesn’t necessarily run concurrently with what’s on-trend and in-stores at the moment.

_u6a9428_jpg_7598_north_626x_whiteWearing Chloe S/S 14 dress with vintage Chanel tights (both from Resee.com) and Maison Margiela boots at the Chanel x AnOther 15th Anniversary Birthday party 

Resee.com follows the curated/edited path that many of the boutique vintage stores have gone online with editorial contextualisation, curated picks from industry folk and themed selections.

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Their strength though is really in the selection and presentation of their pieces.  Where possible, everything is dated by season, accompanied by a runway or editorial image and they come with descriptions that also place the pieces in a fashion historical context.   You’re not just buying a Yves Saint Laurent piece but one that’s from the iconic Russian collection of 1976.  The selection pre 2000 is tight, mainly focusing on Yves Saint Laurent, with some stand out pieces by Paco Rabanne and some hard-to-find Gucci by Tom Ford pieces.

resee_pacorabannePaco Rabanne haute couture hat

resee_ysllesmokingSaint Laurent early 80s smoking jacket

resee_ysl1974Saint Laurent 1976 peasant ensemble

resee_ysltfTom Ford for YSL A/W 04 jacket 

resee_guccitfTom Ford for Gucci A/W 96 suit

resee_christianlacroixChristian Lacroix 1989 choker

resee_commeComme des Garçons 80s embroidered shirt

Resee.com is not by any means comprehensive in its overview of fashion history of the latter half of the 20th century but it comes into its own post 2000.  This is the period when my own interest in fashion, fuelled by obsessive message threads on The Fashion Spot and the rise of Style.com, really ramped up.  In the early period of my blogging days when I wasn’t able to physically go to shows, obsessing about the images that emerged on the internet was something of a pastime.  Its selection of Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiére pieces is particularly broad, with pieces spanning from the beginning of his tenure to his last few collections for the house.  Scrolling through Resee.com’s selection makes me think about the days when I used to click refresh on my browser button on Style.come, waiting for the catwalk images to come through (normally about a 24-36 hour post-show turnaround).

resee_helmutlangHelmut Lang S/S 04 top

resee_rochasotRochas by Olivier Theyskens A/W 04 suit

resee_balenciagang1Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière A/W 02 trousers

resee_balenciagang2Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière A/W 07 collegiate jacket

resee_balenciagang3Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière A/W 10 jumper

Ditto goes for Prada and Miu Miu…

resee_prada1Prada S/S 08 dress

resee_prada2Prada S/S 10 photo suit

resee_miumiu1Miu Miu A/W 02 jacket

resee_miumiu2Miu Miu S/S 09 top

Resee.com also seems to also give you a refresher course on certain epochs that have emerged in the last fifteen years of fashion.  Remember when Stella McCartney, Hannah McGibbon and Phoebe Philo were grouped up as arbiters of female-architected British minimalism?

resee_stellaStella McCartney S/S 12 jumpsuit

resee_chloehmChloe by Hannah MacGibbon A/W 09 boots

resee_celineCéline by Phoebe Philo A/W 11 jumper

The theatrical moments of Marc Jacobs, buttressing a season with both his own shows in New York and his collections for Louis Vuitton in Paris, also live on.

resee_lvmjLouis Vuitton by Marc Jacobs A/W 11 jodhpurs

resee_mjMarc Jacobs A/W 12 skirt

So often when hunting out vintage Chanel, you find a repetition of classic suits and non-descript blouses so it’s nice to see some of the more key catwalk moments on Resee.com.

resee_chanelChanel A/W 12 crystal-heeled shoes

Resee.com’s selection of Alexander Wang and Rodarte for instance buck the trend for proliferation of commercial pieces flooding online consignment stores.  Together, these pieces crystallise that moment in time when Wang made his “downtown cool” stamp and when Rodarte became left-of-field fashion visionaries.

resee_awangAlexander Wang A/W 10 corseted sweatshirt

resee_rodarteRodarte A/W 09 patchwork dress

The most recent pieces on Resee.com are also future collectibles in their own right as seen in this Simone Rocha dress and Loewe t-shirt from Jonathan Anderson’s debut collection for the Spanish house.  They’re moments that are still fresh on my memory having been to the show but look to stand the test of time further down the line.

resee_simonerochaSimone Rocha S/S 12 floral dress

resee_loeweLoewe by Jonathan Anderson S/S 15 t-shirt

So I’m back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was, to the gypsy that I was

It wasn’t a reference cited by Kate and Laura Mulleavy but as their gossamer-thin shimmying and shining frocks (and yes, these really are frocks as opposed to merely dresses…) walked amongst their neon tube jungle, all I could hear in my head were these words of Stevie Nicks.  And Nicks’ particular mix of Victoriana-tinged folksy sultriness could be seen throughout, what I think is one of my favourite Rodarte shows in recent years.

Mentioning poets like Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning already partially immerse you into the Mulleavy’s hypnotic cosmos.  But it’s all about that final evocative rendering that really slays you.  That Victorian and Edwardian buttoned-up and corset-tied poetry ended up colliding with coquettish glamourama of the 1970s, from repeated listening of ELO.  It’s how all that lace, bugle beading and embroidery remained light and unapologetically frivolous.  It’s why in my own head, I thought of the vibes of American giallo classic The Eyes of Laura Mars, touches of Studio 54 and all its fur chubby-wearing revellers, and of course Nicks, who you could certainly see sashaying about in these frocks.  And so it wound up being a potent mix – one that affirms Rodarte as one of those labels that you appreciate for its very existence, as it occupies its own unique magical bolthole, away from the sea of ‘brands’ and ‘product’.  You’ll be hearing those two two words frequently of course, as New York Fashion Week will be kicking off on Wednesday.  Hurrah?

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steviec2Stevie Nicks

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Mary WardEnglish novelist Mary Ward

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emilydickensonEmily Dickinson

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lauramars1Stills from The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

fighting-vampire-layingPhotographs of the character Laura Mars by Rebecca Blake

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corset2Still from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

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biancajBianca Jagger in British Vogue 1974 photographed by Eric Boman

deborahtYves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche photographed by Deborah Turbeville 

Vogue-September-1977-Gold-Surprises-Photo-Deborah-Turbeville-Models-Sunny-Redmond_-Jerry-Hall-_-Unknown-Hair-Garren-Makeup-Ariella_4Vogue 1977 photographed by Deborah Turbeville

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picnicStill from Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

nova-magazine-1970-04Nova magazine 1970

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rrPhotography by Rebecca Blake

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mode1

mode2Callot Sisters Salon in Paris photographed in 1910 – they were known for using antique laces and metallic lamé on their couture dresses

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discoHalston dresses in action in the 1970s

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victoriana1French singer and entertainer Marcelle Lender

victoriana2Photography of the May Queen Festival in 1892

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Stevie-Nicks-White-Top-Skirt-StageStevie Nicks

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I often wonder about the concept of “forever” clothes.  What are the things in my wardrobe that will stand the test of time and be considered to have cultural (and perhaps monetary) worth and be thought of as valuable further down the line when no doubt, should I have children, they’ll probably want to get rid of my dusty mountain of clothes.  A Mariano Fortuny “Delphos” gown is most definitely a forever piece.  Unlike other designers of his era, this one pivotal silk shift dress, marked by its permanent finely spaced pleats, has been photographed on different woman, decades after its debut in 1909.  Natalia Vodionova wore a vintage pink one on the red carpet as recently as 2009.  As a noted artist and lighting designer, Fortuny was less a fashion designer and more of a fine-tuner of a singular garment, as he eschewed the normal cycles of fashion.

You could say that by being inspired by Fortuny in their latest haute couture collection for Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, are echoing that same “forever” factor.  Chiuri and Piccioli rarely wavers from their floor-length, inherently feminine and poetic gowns, invariably accompanied by Pre-Raphaelite tresses and a neo-classical soundtrack.  For some, one collection might blur into another with their steadfast allegiance to the sort of beauty that goes beyond trends.  However, this haute couture collection in particular with its interpretations of the Delphos, its replication of Fortuny’s painterly colour palette, and sumptuous aged velvet and hand-painted textiles, created in conjunction with the present day interior textiles company Fortuny, somehow transcended to another level of beauty.

Fortuny’s ‘forever-ness’ is one thing.  But evoking bastions of un-corseted, expressive and free movement like Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Loie Fuller and Ruth St. Denis (any chance Chiuri and Piccioli might have also seen BBC4’s excellent Dance Rebels documentary?), added another dimension that, in particular spoke to women directly.  Harking back to an era when boundaries were being broken and a woman’s sphere of influence was fast changing, coupled with the open-referencing of a designer, who also played his part in the liberating of women’s bodies, is a winning combo for Chiuri and Piccioli to reach new heights in their oeuvre at Valentino.

The transparent Grecian gowns seem more nymph-like, allowing the female form to flourish.  You want to associate those eclectic patchwork of painted silks and free-flowing velvet with minds that were shaping culture.  These sumptuous gowns mastered in Valentino’s atelier aren’t just vehicles for pure surface, but communicate a great deal more because there’s technical as well as emotional depth to them.  They’re in their own category of ‘forever’ pieces, should you be lucky (or rich) enough to afford them.

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henriettefortunyHenriette Fortuny, wife and muse of Mariano Fortuny

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anna-pavlova-wearing-fortunyAnna Pavlova wearing Fortuny

clarisse-courdet-wife-of-conde-nastClarisse Coudert, wife of Condé Nast, in a Fortuny Delphos and long mantle, c. 1919

regine-flory-1910-in-fortunyRégine Flory in a Fortuny Delphos dress c. 1910

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TJM_Rubinstein_12retouched-MuraywtmkHelena Rubenstein wearing a 1923 Paul Poiret dress c. 1924

peggy-guggenheim-fortunyPeggy Guggenheim in a Fortuny Delphos in her Venice palazzo, c. 1979

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fortunysilksdyedColour palette of dyed silks of Fortuny dresses

tina-chow-with-collection-of-fortunyTina Chow with her collection of Fortuny pieces

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paulpoiret1911Paul Poiret design 1911

542412979Ladies in Paul Poiret designs in a garden in Paris, 1910

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Mishkin.Ruth_.St_.Denis_Ruth St Denis dancing in ‘Egypta’

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030-martha-graham-theredlistMartha Graham in 1930s

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shizukashiraShirabyoshi – female dancers in the Japanese Imperial court that dressed as men

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loie-fullerLoie Fuller

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madeleinelaf1Asian-inspired robe by Madeleine Laferriere from 1912

paulpoiretPaul Poiret harem trousers and sultana skirt c. 1911

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knossosFortuny “Knossos” dress

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iduncan_3Isadora Duncan

IsadorablesThe “Isadorables” – Duncan’s adopted daughters

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tumblr_mphgd6PMkC1r1p7nfo1_1280Colette Alliot-Lugaz in a Fortuny Delphos and velvet mantle stenciled in silver and gold, with a motif inspired by Cretan art

tumblr_mpjt1uVjM51r1p7nfo1_1280Fortuny short jacket in lavender velvet stenciled in silver

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fortuny02Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi wearing a Fortuny Eleanora dress, 1920s

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