The first clothes designed by Pucci were for the Reed College skiing team. But his designs came to wider attention in 1947, when he was on leave in Zermatt, Switzerland. Skiwear that he had designed for a female friend was photographed by Toni Frissell, a photographer working for Harper’s Bazaar. Frissell’s editor asked Pucci to design skiwear for a story on European Winter Fashion, which ran in the winter 1948 issue of the Bazaar.
Although there had been some experiments with stretch fabrics in Europe before the war, Pucci’s sleek designs caused a sensation, and he received several offers from American manufacturers to produce them.
Initially he used his knowledge of stretch fabrics to produce a swimwear line in 1949, but soon moved onto other items such as brightly coloured, boldly patterned silk scarves.
Pucci added a boutique in Rome as business thrived, helped by Capri’s role as a destination for the international jet set. By the early 1950s, Pucci was achieving international recognition, receiving the Neiman-Marcus Award in Dallas and the Burdine’s Sunshine Award in Miami. By the 1960s
Pucci was further thrust into greater status when Marilyn Monroe became a fan. She was photographed by George Barris in a number of his items in what would be some of her final photographs. She was buried in one of his dresses. As the decade progressed his designs were worn by everyone from Sophia Loren to Jackie Kennedy. And latter day pop icons such as Madonna in the early 1990s.
In 1959, Pucci decided to create a lingerie line. His atelier in Rome advised him to develop the line abroad, avoiding the difficulties of a decade earlier in matching available fabrics to the patterns of his first swimwear line. As a result, Pucci came to Chicago giving the lingerie contract to Formfit-Rogers mills.
The venture proved to be successful, and Pucci was made vice president in charge of design and merchandising for the company a year later. Also in 1959, Pucci was introduced to Baronessa Cristina Nannini, a Roman baroness, at his boutique in Capri. Pucci would later marry her, claiming: “I married a Botticelli“.