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Friday, March 14, 2014

Emilio Pucci, Reed College, and Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Back in December it was announced that the Portland Art Museum is gearing up for a major fashion exhibit, Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945, in February of 2015. Which is so. frickin'. far. away.

In the meantime, Reed College's Reed Magazine has published an article outlining the biography of one of the exhibits' featured designers, Emilio Pucci, with particular attention to his attendance at Reed and the mark he left on the college (the double griffin logo he drew is still used on the college's sweatshirts), the city (a 1957 fashion show he hosted at PAM was written up in the Oregonian as "the outstanding social event ever to be held in Portland"), and the world, both via his famous innovations in print design, color, and ski wear as well as his role in politics (tortured for information by the Nazis much?). I went to the school (thus my subscription), so I knew he was a Reedie, but the article is full of tidbits I wasn't aware of and aren't widely publicized, including his naive treatise on fascism that can still be checked out at the college library:

Hanging out with Emilio required some fancy ideological footwork because he was also a passionate defender of Italian fascism, a fact often forgotten or omitted from romantic accounts. His thesis, written under his adviser, Prof. Tom Staveley [history 1924–25, 1936–37], was “Fascism: An Explanation and Justification.” Reading the text (available in the thesis tower) turns one’s stomach. Emilio wrote in the introduction that he meant his description of Italy’s governmental system to correct misunderstandings and promote world peace. He believed that a strong centralized government was essential to a prosperous modern society. President Keezer, who himself frequently spoke out against fascism, wrote later that he thought Emilio’s presence at Reed as a “vigorous champion of it, could enliven our campus in an intellectually stimulating way.”

It's an interesting read, and though the article doesn't make direct mention of the upcoming exhibit it's also a nice supplementary prep in anticipation of next year.

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