Sunday, November 06, 2011

Confessions of a Pucci-a-holic

Marilyn Kirschner wearing vintage Pucci
for More Magazine profile September 2003.

 As a child of the 60's, with a beautiful and chic mother who loved Pucci, it's easy to understand why I became so enamored of the famed label early on. Add to that my artistic sensibility, my predilection for modern art inspired bold graphic patterns and unusual color combinations, and my love affair with all things Italian, and there you have it. A match made in heaven.


New Pucci Boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue
(Click on images for larger view)

 Speaking of matches made in heaven, Pucci and Saks Fifth Avenue seem to be made to go together. I still remember my first Pucci. It was a very signature piece: a deliciously colored and graphically patterned above the knee length long sleeved jersey dress with its own matching belt (finished with crystals at the ends). And it was purchased at the Saks Fifth Avenue in Bal Harbor, Florida, while on vacation with my family (we stayed at the famed Eden Roc Hotel). I still fit into it. I still wear it. In fact, I was photographed wearing it when More Magazine did a style profile on me in September, 2003. And it makes me smile whenever I see it, just like all my others, part of a rather enviable collection, amassed through the years.

Pucci Boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue

When I heard the news that a brand new 450 square foot Pucci boutique was set to open on the third floor of Saks Fifth Avenue (it was feted in high style last Tuesday night, at a party co hosted by Glenda Bailey and creative director Peter Dundas), it certainly conjured up many great memories and peeked my curiosity. Filled with a carefully edited selection highlighting the best of Mr. Dundas's uber glamorous and well received fall winter collection (inspired by the Tyrolean Mountains), there is something for every Pucci loving customer (and for those who may be new to the label).

Of course there are the house's iconic swirling patterns, which are done up in everything, from the still best selling jersey dresses ($1300- $1800) to perfect-for-the-slopes sporty quilted waterproof parkas ($1850). But there is a smattering of chic leopard, a selection of impeccably tailored single or double breasted black wool blazers ($1995), and a dramatic black wool gown embellished with gold metal ($7,000), of the sort that made him a darling with a list stars like J-Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow, who have been sporting his eye catching creations on the red carpet as of late. (FYI, the least expensive item in the boutique is the $450 printed cotton t-shirt, and the most expensive is the $7000 gown).

While I may have appreciated the timelessness and often museum quality artistry of Pucci early on, it was really not until the 80's that I began to collect with a vengeance. At that time, I was senior market editor of Harper's Bazaar, and a full blown Pucci revival was underway. Long before wearing vintage was as commonplace and mainstream as it is today, I found myself 'shopping' for standout pieces in my mother's closet, and when my thirst could not be satiated there, I began to frequent vintage stores, vintage shows, religiously going to the 26th Street Flea Market, and scouring the high end thrift shops, such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering, 1440 Third Avenue, 212, 535-1250, http://www.memorialthriftshop.org/. (Coincidentally, their holiday bazaar is taking place this Wednesday, November 9 - Sunday, November 13, with proceeds benefitting The Society of MSKCC's Patient Care, Research and Education programs. In addition to an Emilio Pucci dress, $450 new with tags, other sale highlights include a Missoni wool dress with mink bottom; a Bill Blass satin suit, $285; an Alexander McQueen dress suit, unused, $675;, Gucci black/red shoes with rhinestones, $125; and Manolo Blahnik gold sandals, $140.)

The New York Times, Sunday February 11th, 2001 Sunday Styles Section

My love affair with vintage was firmly cemented. I truly loved and appreciated that when I wore vintage Pucci. I not only stood out, but I did not look like anyone else. When Bill Cunningham ran his 18 picture column on me back in February, 2001, "The color of money (in the bank)", almost half the pieces were vintage Pucci. More recently, I appeared in his apres New York Fashion Week story, "Fresh" clad in my most favorite piece: a vintage Pucci blouse with Saks Fifth Avenue label which belonged to my mom, paired with a velvet Pucci bag scored at Resurrection Vintage years ago, when they had their jewel of a shop on East 7th Street.

While I would hardly say that I wear Pucci on a regular basis (my urbane daily uniform is more about black, black and white, navy, khaki), I have kept my beloved collection in tact, and when the occasion is right, I don't hesitate to revive my all time favorites.

And talk about a quick happy fix. Which reminds me of the time, many years ago, that I was in the elevator of my building and an elderly woman got on. She asked if I was wearing Pucci and when I said, yes, she bemoaned that she had given all of hers away. Then, with a wicked twinkle in her eye, she said, "We had so much fun in those clothes." That said it all.

Marilyn Monroe wearing Pucci dress

By the way, I am not the only Marilyn who has a fondness for Pucci. My far more famous namesake, Marilyn Monroe, had quite a collection and requested that she be buried in one of her favorite silk printed blouses. Other famed icons who also wore and collected Pucci include Jacqueline Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor.

- Marilyn Kirschner

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