Elio Fiorucci (Milan 1935-2015) was the son of a shoe shop owner and was one of the great made-in-Italy innovators, whose pop style at democratic prices caused a revolution in clothing beginning in the 1960s.
His first store opened in Milan in 1967, where he sold his soon-to-become iconic T-shirts printed with Victorian angels and hearts in fluorescent colors as well as brightly colored gadgets, accessories, food and beverages.
The store became a gathering point for counterculture youth drawn to the accessible glamour of a designer who adopted the “peace and love” hippie slogan as his own.
Stores in London and New York followed. The midtown Manhattan store designed by Ettore Sottsass opened in 1976 and became a meeting place of New York artists and intellectuals, drawing a young Madonna, and with Andy Warhol choosing it as a location for the launch of his new magazine – Interview.
In 1977 Fiorucci organized the grand opening of what was to become another Manhattan and global landmark – the disco Studio 54.
Cut to 1982, when Dupont invented Lycra and Fiorucci mixed it with denim, giving birth to the first stretch jeans.
This was followed in 1983 by the launch of the Flashdance aesthetic, for he was the first to design and sell brand-name leggings, legwarmers, sweatshirts, and all the accoutrements that had become instant objects of desire after the movie about the ambitious dancer/steelworker won the hearts and minds of a generation of teenage girls.
In 1990, the visionary designer sold his company to Japanese company Edwin Co. Ltd., but 11 years ago founded a new brand called Love Therapy which is still successful today.
In an interview with ANSA just before his 80th birthday, the designer said two key words, considered almost obsolete in this day and age, should be brought back into everyday conversation, waste and empathy: “our excesses reflect negatively on planetary balance, limiting everyone’s resources,” Fiorucci said. “Let’s try to translate the rules of harmonious living into a code of fair sharing… let’s put our duties towards animals, nature, the environment, our neighbors, in black and white,” he continued. “That way we will automatically discover the meaning of empathy”. “I’ve always been apolitical, a great lover of freedom of thought. At just six years of age I lived through the trauma of the Second World War, with the bombings that shook Milan and people who were dying without knowing why. But I was lucky to live during a fascinating period such as the 1960s, a moment of great social change, when young people were thinking of liberty, of peace,” he went on. “That’s when I realized the need to express myself freely, without political ties to the right or the left.”
Fiorucci’s typical offerings, combining Italian taste and a London spirit, were made up of bright and fluorescent colors, T-shirts printed with angels, and plastic-based accessories.
He was found dead in his home in Milan on July 20, 2015. “I am saddened by the loss of… a free spirit, a creative talent that embodied the industriousness of his native Milan while spreading the Italy brand around the world – with grace, curiosity, and passion,” Premier Matteo Renzi said.