Fiorucci is the name of a look, a new retail concept, a business and social phenomenon, and behind this innovative name and concept there is Elio Fiorucci. In the early 1960s Fiorucci was a small shoe shop in Milan owned and run by Elio Fiorucci’s father: the elegant and wealthy Milanese used to have their clothes and shoes made there.
In 1962, Elio Fiorucci, then 22, took three pairs of his brightly coloured plastic galoshes to a weekly Milan fashion magazine and convinced the editors to publish a photograph of them and immediately they became an overnight sensation. The new Fiorucci was born. In 1967 Milano was still a conservative and conformist fashion city, but the Fiorucci store there, which was opened in the same year, became a landmark for modern and alternative shoppers.
Elio Fiorucci brought the youth culture from London and New York and presented it to young Italians who loved it. They had barely seen T-shirts, jeans and glitter – now they had the opportunity to buy it in their city. Nothing in Fiorucci is really original, except that it all is. Everything comes from something or somewhere else. The Fiorucci trends follow “mass culture facts”: the emergence of rock music, the ecology movement, a seductive political cause: in the 70’s Fiorucci designers invented brightly coloured parachute cloth jumpsuits and they turned workmen’s lunchboxes into purses, they introduced Afghan coats and Brazilian thongs to the world.
At Fiorucci nothing is sacred. Fiorucci’s real genius has been the ability to take something ordinary and turn it into fashion. One of the favorite words in the Fiorucci lexicon is “recycle”: it means reuse, change, reassemble, reinvent. To list a few of the looks popularised by Fiorucci: gold garnishments (for shoes, bags, boots, jeans, belts, luggage), fishnet stockings, fake animal skin fabrics, clothes in Lycra and Spandex, military fabric for “silly” clothes. little star prints and little stripes in bright candy colours.
Jeans were the centerpiece of the Fiorucci empire – they came in fuchsia, peach, periwinkle and jade. Especially the details made the difference: the multi-coloured buttons running down the front of a man’s shirt; the glimmer of a metallic thread darting off the surface of an otherwise undistinguished cotton plaid; the Crayola-coloured galoshes which made him famous.
Between 1976 and 1984 the Fiorucci stores in the USA, especially in New York City, were a creative melting pot for artists like Andy Warhole and for other designers like Calvin Klein. The very trendy Fiorucci brand at the time was even quoted in the chart breaking hit “The greatest dancer” by Sister Sledge. The brand was booming and had great diffusion, but nonetheless in the late 80’s almost every store in the US had to close down because of bad management and a dispute over strategic direction of the brand.
Subsequently the Fiorucci empire was split into shares that were bought by various multinational corporations and Elio even lost the right to use his own name. The Fiorucci brand had a few ups and downs over the 90’s but it is still maintaining a high level profile.
Sadly, in 2003 after 36 years Fiorucci closed down his historic shop in Milan, because told by him, “he had fallen out of love with fashion.” Right now he is working on his new brand Love Therapy.
The importance and innovation that Elio Fiorucci brought to the fashion world is still recognizable and recognized. He brought the international flair to his collections and shops and was the first to develop lifestyle stores, which combined art, fashion, beauty and music.