Pucci Again : Design: Those psychedelic prints have returned--on unitards, dresses and accessories.

The many visions of Pucci-print spandex unitards seen in magazines and on fashion runways over the last few months might have you wondering whether you've fallen into a time tunnel.

Don't worry, it's still 1990--sort of. Even so, throwbacks to that psychedelic '60s look are the hottest thing in resort fashion, and are scheduled to appear in boutiques and department stores by November.

Those wild, swirling, hallucinogenic prints that seem to roll across a garment with Lava Lamp fluidity are coming at consumers in two forms. First, there are the authentic items, still designed by Florence-based Emilio Pucci, who made his name in the swinging '60s. Then, there are the dozens of copies by contemporary sportswear designers.

Already wearing the authentic items are jewelry and accessories designer Paloma Picasso and '70s supermodel Cheryl Tiegs. Blouses, sheathes, unitards and leggings are the big sellers, and prices range from about $75 to $500.

Picasso and Tiegs have been popping into the New York Pucci boutique, the only one in the United States. With floor-size Pucci print pillows, Pucci-upholstered chairs, not to mention Pucci pink carpeting, the shop is a time capsule tribute to its Florentine namesake. If a visit to the shop on East 64th Street isn't in the offing, clients can shop at a Pucci boutique opening this month in Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills.

Pucci, a former skier, entered the fashion world in 1947 with an alpine fashion ensemble that revolutionized slope attire. A more complete sportswear collection followed in 1949. In 1950, he began devoting himself full time to fashion. By the mid '60s, he was the toast of Vogue magazine and the international fashion set.

"What a great opportunity for him. Look at (Coco) Chanel, she didn't get the chance," says Terry Tannehill, a Pucci spokeswoman, noting that Chanel died before her look enjoyed a revival.

Asked about the Pucci look-alikes being sold across the country, Tannehill says the problem is "both flattering and angering."

"We've actually had people (manufacturers and designers) come in here and buy scarves, copy them and return them," Tannehill says.

New York-based Tapemeasure, a moderately priced contemporary fashion company, is one label picking up on the original look for the resort season. In California, Hot Lava and Roberto Robledo pay homage to Pucci prints in their resort collections, as does Israel-based Gottex swimwear.

Robledo simply says his group, priced from $50 for leggings to $158 for a catsuit, differs from Pucci originals in more ways than price.

He bought his Pucci-esque fabric at a New York store, and it is roller-printed, not hand-screened, like the authentic Italian fabric. Robledo says his and other collections inspired by the original are a complement to the master.

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