In 1967 a new store opened in Milan’s Galleria Passarella that was different from anything the city had ever seen before. Elio Fiorucci’s new space and apparel line weren’t so much a shop and clothing as a total lifestyle experience. Fiorucci had traveled the world and brought the style he found there – t-shirts and jeans, the bright patterns of Swinging London – straight to Milan where he gave it an Italian spin.
While Fiorucci’s first store brought the world to Italy, soon the “Fiorucci Style” would be so famous that the brand would be bringing Italy to the rest of the world. After opening a new store in Via Torino in 1974, the company debuted in London in 1975 and New York in 1976. Each of these stores became hangouts for everyone from teenagers to famous up-and-coming artists. The New York store hosted all of the personalities who made Manhattan the place to be in the 1980s: Keith Haring, Madonna, Marc Jacobs and Bianca Jagger. The store even hired Madonna’s stylist, Maripol, as its art director.
So what exactly is the Fiorucci style? Although the brand has included many different labels in its history – Fiorucci, Fioruccino, Baby Angel, Love Therapy and a capsule collection with Naomi Campbell – it is always colorful, inventive and fun. The adult lines are sexy and scandalous (think stretch jeans and a topless monokini) while the children’s ranges are playful and cute.
Yet, no matter how much Fiorucci has pushed the limits, it also also appeals to people who have never had the chance to shop Galleria Passarella or Madison Avenue. As a kid in middle school, just about to enter high school, I made what had until then been a bedroom decorated by my mother into my own territory by taping up posters of my icons and images ripped out of magazines. One of my favorites was two cute Raphael-style angels that wore brightly-colored sunglasses with attitude. That poster was of the icon Fiorucci had adopted as its official logo in 1970.
When Fiorucci opened its first store in Milan in 1967, legendary Italian singer Adriano Celentano rolled in to celebrate in a pink Cadillac as products from London were displayed in the Fiorucci windows. Fast forward to 2011: Naomi Campbell is presenting her capsule collection against a hot pink Fiorucci background as the brand opens its lifestyle Pocket Store in collaboration with Swedish retailer Ikea. The Fiorucci of today might seem to be very different from the Fiorucci of yesterday, but if you think about it, what remains unchanged is the daring idea that Italian style is a global concept that’s always in conversation with trends from around the world - that and the color pink, of course!