Fiorucci: When Pop Art Met Fashion


Fiorucci vintage campaign. Photograph:
Vintage Fiorucci campaign, photograph:

 To commemorate the life and legacy of Elio Fiorucci who died earlier this week; here are seven cultural moments to remember the Italian fashion designer by.

The Store

Marc Jacobs told the New York Times in an interview in 2001, that he skipped camp when he was 15 years old to spend summers at Fiorucci’s New York store, also known as the “daytime Studio 54”. Long before decks were common place at every highstreet store launch: Mr Fiorucci installed the hottest disco DJs to entertain the fabulous customers, including Jackie O and Cher. The main attraction, however, was the even-more-fabulous staff who infamously “vogued” in the store window – much to the horror of the passing Bloomingdale’s customers.


Footage of Fiorucci staff, Youtube

The Protégées

A “concept store” long before the likes of Colette in Paris or Voo Store in Berlin, Mr Fiorucci curated hard-to-source pieces from around the world, and championed young designers. He was the first to showcase collections from Anna Sui and Betsey Johnson. Terry Jones worked as a creative director for the brand before he left to launch i-D magazine, alongside Oliviero Toscani, who went on to photograph the pioneering Benetton advertising campaigns. Maripol – who styled Grace Jones, Madonna and Debbie Harry – was involved in art directing the store and had a jewelry counter there. 

Maripol and Madonna. Photograph:
Maripol and Madonna, photograph:

The Warhol Connection

“Went to Fiorucci and it’s so much fun there. It’s everything I’ve always wanted, all plastic.” (Warhol’s diary 1983)

Andy Warhol reportedly visited the New York store days after it opened and became friends with Fiorucci. He even chose the window as the place to launch his own magazine: Interview. Fiorucci worked with Warhol on the launch of the restaurant for Studio 54, which was attended by Grace Jones and Bianca Jagger.

Warhol and Fiorucci. Photograph: i-D magazine
Warhol and Fiorucci, photograph: i-D magazine

The Campaigns

Spanning the 70s, 80s and 90s, Fiorucci’s ad campaigns inspired collaborations with numerous creatives, including a portrait of John Water’s muse Devine, by Richard Bernstein; and pop artist Keith Haring, who also painted the Milan store inside and out. 

Devine in vintage Fiorucci campaign. Photograph: Facebook
Devine in vintage Fiorucci campaign, photograph: Fiorucci Facebook

The (anti) Tribute

Last month, at his SS16 menswear show, Raf Simons used a soundtrack from British artist and Turner prize winner, Mark Leckey’s cult video from 1999. The film is a montage from Northern Soul dancers in the 70s to Acid House ravers in the 90s at different British nightclubs. He titled it: “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore”. He explained his choice of title to the Guardian in an interview saying it was about how: “…something as trite and throwaway and exploitative as a jeans manufacturer can be taken by a group of people and made into something totemic, and powerful, and life-affirming.”

“Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore”, by Mark Leckey, Youtube

The Bottom

In true Italian fashion the brand oozed sex appeal. The focus of the adverts were usually on the lycra-clad – or just plain naked – rearview of the model. Mr Fiorucci was dedicated to emphasising the asset so much, he is credited with inventing stretch denim. His inspiration? Driving through Ibiza, he “saw some beautiful topless girls in jeans diving into the water—their jeans completely stuck to them, resulting in such beautiful legs and bums,” he told i-D in one of his last interviews last month.

Vintage advert. Photograph: Facebook
Vintage advert, photograph:

The Legacy

Fiorucci injected fashion with glamour and made it about the “faces”, and the music, which is more than evident today. From celebrity collaborations, brands choices of designers, like Moschino’s appointment of club kid favourite, Jeremy Scott, who most definitely paints from a Fiorucci palette; to newer designers’ work, such as Sophia Webster’s disco-ready heels which would have sold well in his store. On the highstreet, leopard print, stretch denim and sparkle continue to reign – all Fiorucci signatures, and no dancefloor has been safe from American Apparel’s sell-out piece: “The Disco Pants”. In fact, it seems that fashion’s needle has been stuck on a Fiorucci-inspired mix since the 70s, returning every few years to the disco-style mash-up his world encapsulated.

Lookbook image from Sophia Webster AW15, courtesy of Sophia Webster
Lookbook image from Sophia Webster AW15, courtesy Sophia Webster


Text by Jessica Hannan

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