Thinker, tailor, soldier, spy. Emilio Pucci '37 at work.
Thinker, tailor, soldier, spy. Emilio Pucci '37 at work.

Reed's Prince of Fashion Makes Splash at Art Museum

By Robin Tovey ’97 | February 13, 2015

You may associate Reedies with conspicuous non-consumption, yet we have cut a distinctive swath (both high and low) in the fashion world, with none more celebrated than Emilio Pucci MA ’37. After graduating from Reed, the legendary fashion designer led a fascinating life of international intrigue and was tortured by Nazi interrogators. His original designs are included in the exhibition Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 showing at the Portland Art Museum through May 3, 2015.

Italian Style documents Italy’s dramatic transition from post-war devastation to burgeoning industry. Sumptuous displays include more than 100 ensembles and accessories created by leading Italian fashion houses, including Pucci, Valentino, Gucci, Missoni, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Prada, and Versace. As Emilio Pucci propelled Reed into the world of alpine sport, as founder of the college ski team, his breathtaking designs propelled Italian fashion onto the world stage.

For its presentation in Portland, the only West Coast venue, the museum has organized a variety of programs for the general public, as well as a private tour for alumni led by docent Nancy Johannsen Morrice ’78 in April (see details). In addition, Reed students are eligible for a $5 discount (show your ID at the box office). Reed alumni, staff, and faculty are eligible for a $5 discount by using the code REED when purchasing a ticket online

If you haven't had your fill of high style after seeing the glamorous display at the museum, drop by Reed’s Hauser Library to see Emilio Pucci: Fashion Impressario, curated by Gay Walker ’69, special collections librarian, in the flat cases through April 15. Also, you may enjoy a talk that Pucci gave on campus in 1962. “Design: High Fashion and Creative Art” was part of the fall lecture series sponsored by the Reed College Women’s Committee. In his comments, he credits his time at Reed as the basis for his distinguished career. Pucci goes on to define fashion in contrast to the dictionary definition of vulgarity, proposing that it is "a battle for taste, refinement, in order to make living more pleasant." Listen to the reel-to-reel recording of his 30-minute speech on October 10, 1962. 

Tags: Alumni