The Italian label's Paris shop sports a new look by DeuxL and Vudafieri Partners
Ian Phillips -- Interior Design, 4/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
"I've been steeped in Pucci all my life," says Lena Pessoa. When the Brazilian-born designer was a child, her mother would wear flamboyant Pucci sunglasses and multicolored Pucci summer dresses. "The label was always special for me," Pessoa continues, "like something out of a dream."
An integral part of that dream was the exuberant, sociable personality of Emilio Pucci di Barsento, an Italian marchese who transformed skiwear, invented capris and stretch jumpsuits, and became synonymous with swirling psychedelic prints in a multitude of bright hues. The revolution began in 1951 in Capri, where he opened an airy shop favored by Rita Hayworth and Gloria Guinness.
When LVMH Moët Hennessy–Louis Vuitton acquired a 67 percent stake in the fashion house in 2000, the company called upon Pessoa's Paris firm, DeuxL, to come up with a concept for boutiques worldwide. She had started working for LVMH earlier that year, after inventing an ingenious magnet-based display system. A shirt, for instance, could defy gravity, thanks to magnets placed in the shoulders and affixed to the ceiling above. LVMH picked up Pessoa's concept for 800 Louis Vuitton boutiques.
For Emilio Pucci's new look, she drew inspiration from exactly the same Mediterranean locations as the fashion designer had for his clothing. "The starting points were water and lightness," she explains. "The quasi-transparent spaces make the clothing float."
The Paris boutique—on Avenue Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement—is the eighth designed by DeuxL. And almost certainly the most accomplished. As with the previous seven, Pessoa teamed up with architect Tiziano Vudafieri of Vudafieri Partners. "Serenity was our goal, not dramatic effects," says Vudafieri. To that end, the duo took great care in restructuring the 1,600-square-foot interior, formerly a shoe shop. The effect is indeed incredibly peaceful, given the rather flashy nature of the clothing itself.
Pessoa and Vudafieri began by removing a large central pillar, which was breaking up the flow of the interior. They replaced the pillar with an I beam running sideways, between the real and dropped ceilings. The I beam is supported on either side by a column 16 inches square.
For fixtures, Pessoa and Vudafieri worked almost exclusively in transparent or sanded acrylic. Clothing, now designed by Christian Lacroix, hangs from acrylic poles attached to ultrathin rails that Boeing normally uses as curtain rods. In a clever touch, this setup allows coats, suits, and jackets to be displayed either sideways or face-on. Accessories are placed on nearly invisible acrylic shelves suspended on steel cables.
Counters, meanwhile, were sprayed with automotive paint. "Because it's very smooth, it makes the furniture appear even lighter," affirms Pessoa. That's certainly the case with the shoe stands finished in a mother-of-pearl color. "There's a specific place for each item—to avoid the possibility of product overload. It's impossible for assistants to line up 36 pairs of shoes on the floor!" she says. The floor in question is a glossy composite of marble and colored resin.
To achieve the desired calmness, lighting received special attention, too. Lighting consultant Walter Amort of Studio Emotional Lighting first chose a satin-finish paint for the walls, in front of which he hung a luminous fireproof fabric. Down-lit by fluorescents installed in channels in the ceiling, the fabric "offers a lot of depth," says Vudafieri. The translucent-acrylic accessories shelves are up-lit. "There's a choice between three colors: pink, blue, and white. That way, we can alter the ambience from one season to the next," explains Pessoa.
Hues of paint vary from one Pucci interior to another. For Paris, Pessoa hit upon the palest of aquas. "Paris can be quite gray, so I brought in the sea," she declares. "Our approach was to create the most neutral space possible, without being minimalist or white. That would have been a far too obvious solution."
Silk shantung, one of Emilio Pucci's favorite fabrics, covers an ottoman. The memory of the marchese and his world is evoked more literally by a panel of photos, a feature of each new boutique. In the Paris shop, he appears in a 1964 shot, fitting Veruschka in Florence. Nearby, a socialite shows off his first skiwear on the slopes of Zermatt, Switzerland. There are also portraits of celebrity fans through the decades: Madonna, Sophia Loren, and Marilyn Monroe, the latter wearing a Pucci shirt and pants while reading in bed in Los Angeles. It's said that she asked to be buried in Pucci.
To enhance the Emilio Pucci boutique's ethereal atmosphere, Lena Pessoa and Tiziano Vudafieri hung clothing from transparent acrylic poles fitted with brushed-steel loops, a system that allows garments to hang sideways or face-on. Christian Lacroix designed the summer 2003 collection.
The Taitù pattern dates from 1964.
Taralli, a Pucci print circa 1971.
A beribboned sandal.
The floor is a marble-resin composite. Stands for shoes are stainless steel, covered in automotive paint.
Steel cables support acrylic shelves for accessories display.
An open-toed platform sandal in cotton canvas, with a lacquered heel.
Behind the mannequins, Pessoa and Vudafieri hung a transparent film laser-printed with a computer-generated image corresponding to the current collection.