CAPRI, Italy — There was no doubt in Camille Miceli’s mind that her first designs for Pucci should be unveiled in Capri, the jet-set island where founder Emilio Pucci opened his initial boutique in 1951.Fast-forward seven decades later, Capri remains an Italian gem in the Mediterranean, and Miceli, named artistic director of the brand last September, made sure that the two-day experience she planned to present her designs would reflect the Dolce Vita lifestyle associated with both Pucci and the island — and offer countless Instagrammable moments. Case in point, guests arriving by boat at the Bagni Tiberio beach and restaurant were met by two rows of models in Pucci swimsuits, fully accessorized with the brand’s colorful scarves and lying on Pucci towels in choreographed and synchronized leg lifts. Three giant Pucci pillows floated in the clear waters below the rocks.
“We thought this was the perfect place to communicate with the new Pucci community and everyone is part of the experience and actors of the experience,” said Miceli, wearing a breezy handkerchief top with a newly revisited Emilio Pucci geometric print over a terry wrap miniskirt, pointing to several of the guests already wearing her designs, which drop on Friday as a see now, buy now collection. “It’s important for me that people don’t feel left out of the experience, it should feel more inclusive, for a mix of generations, people and society. For me, this is something major.
“Joy, fantasy, frivolity, well-being and colors, of course,” are what Pucci stands for, said Miceli, whose own energy and passion for the brand is palpable.
To be sure, Sidney Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Fashion Group and a member of the LVMH executive committee, is convinced Miceli’s “energy, sense of color and skills with prints” are the right fit for the brand.
“There is a lot to do but this time, I am confident that we are on the right track and when you are there, you can decide to go faster,” said the executive, who had worked with Miceli when he was CEO of Dior. The designer in 2009 moved to the storied French brand from Louis Vuitton, building its fashion jewelry business and also served as a creative consultant on leather goods. “She is a hands-on designer, and she has such a passion for the brand,” Toledano said of Miceli.
One of the first steps that Miceli took was a return to drawing the Pucci patterns by hand, just as the founder did. “When I arrived, I saw that the drawings were done by computer but the human imperfection is perfection for Pucci,” emphasized the designer. “You feel the humanity and the sensitivity with original Emilio Pucci prints. Surely, it takes time, but I like this kind of handcraft.”
She reworked Pucci’s signature motifs in a mix-and-match patchwork of supersized or miniaturized patterns, citing, for example, the Marmo (marble) pattern and launching a new logo inspired by an archival 1953 “Capri Sport” label — an intertwining dual fish, shaped as a P woven, for example, into wooden-soled sandals or in a hoodie, or transformed into a single earring.
The first drop, called “La Grotta Azzurra” and named after Capri’s famous Blue Grotto, includes short or long caftans and kimonos in cotton voile or silk chiffon. Leveraging her expertise, Miceli is expanding the brand’s accessories range and venturing into menswear by offering larger-sized shirts, fleece jumpers and footwear, such as flip-flops shaped like fish with colorful silk details on the vamp. Backgammon sets, beach cushions and even playing cards completed the collection.
Asked about the reasons for foregoing a runway show, Miceli said she didn’t find seasonality to be relevant for Pucci and the Capri presentation would “have much more impact.”
“This experience is absolutely fitting because of the origin of Emilio Pucci’s story, the first boutique, the DNA, the memories playing,” concurred Toledano, who masterminded shifting Pucci to a resort-focused brand.
“I was seeing that the business was doing very well in Palm Beach, in Miami, in St. Tropez and that it was less an urban story,” said Toledano, citing past iterations of the brand with Christian Lacroix or Peter Dundas, for example, and a store presence in cities such as London and New York, but deciding against reinvesting in this strategy. He acknowledged the collaborations with Christelle Kocher, Supreme and Tomo Koizumi performed well, but they were “not a global concept.”
“We need to go in the direction of Emilio Pucci himself, remember where you come from before defining where you want to go, not sticking to the past but the roots are important before you grow the tree, and people are going to resorts more and more. Many friends decided to move to Miami or Palm Beach from New York during COVID-19,” continued Toledano. “Timing in life is important, it took time to have the opportunity to have Camille, it was right for her, for Pucci and for the group.”
He underscored the “kind of natural, easy and cool spirit” of the day. “It’s not a matter of taking people on a big boat and telling them look how powerful we are. It’s not this kind of marketing, this is done in a subtle way, with people sharing things together. Last night at the dinner, some people danced, some are more shy, but people are here to enjoy themselves,” said Toledano, who looked at ease himself, wearing a colorful bomber jacket in an azure print and arriving by boat.
Miceli’s first drop was available from Friday exclusively on Mytheresa and the designer is aiming to jazz up Pucci’s online communication with fresh content and shoots, and plans to expand the brand’s e-sales.
“I want to push Pucci as an internet brand, and we need to excite, offering newness, and often,” Miceli said. “Honestly, if I could I would do weekly drops, but I think I would drive them crazy,” she added with a laugh.
Miceli is not necessarily reaching out to a younger customer, but casting a wider net with a broader range of products, from morning to evening, and some “saucy” looks, she said. The second drop is scheduled for June 1, but, looking ahead through the rest of the year, she has already designed some ski and winter looks, acknowledging the founder’s skiing skills.
Toledano conceded that a strong online presence is relevant today but admitted he was “a store guy,” and that “the real experience in a store is important.”
There are plans to change the existing store concept, first in Palm Beach, Miami, St. Tropez and Portofino, and to add shop-in-shops in key department stores with “a very selective distribution.” The Hamptons or perhaps pop-ups in hotels owns by parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, such as the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, would also be good fits, he offered.
Toledano, who took the time to praise Emilio’s daughter Laudomia Pucci for protecting the brand and its archives through the years, said Pucci has been historically very successful in Japan, where the group plans to reinforce the brand, as well as in America.
Mytheresa CEO Michael Kliger said he has seen a “big customer base in the U.S. and the Middle East” for Pucci, “one of the strongest vacation brands” on the luxury site. He touted the new “more complete, full lifestyle resort” concept. While caftans and tunics “have always been a strong part of Pucci, it’s good to have more, but in an easy and natural way, like little baskets, sandals and games.”
He touted Miceli’s “fun, details-oriented” designs, and the potential opportunities in menswear.
Together, they will work “to create experiences and produce content, used to amplify on the site, and there will be a bigger push with content. It’s most important for customers to get new ideas and time them to certain occasions and moments,” Kliger said. “And social media is very important and we play a role for that message. I think the new strategy fits very well with Pucci, which has always been a light and joyful brand.”