The history of Fiorucci: A masterclass in playful, head turning poster design

Daring and provocative, Fiorucci’s ad campaigns of the 1960s-80s revolutionised the fashion industry. Adorning posters, billboards and panini stickers, the bold designs and youthful clothing came to define a generation.

As we launch a collection of rare Fiorucci posters, we explore the history of the iconic label and the poster campaigns that propelled Fiorucci to the worldwide market.

Elio Fiorucci

In 1965 Elio Fiorucci visited London, where he delighted in the swinging fashions of Carnaby Street and Kensington Market. He was immersed in a technicolour of progressive fashion, that offered shoppers an interactive and subversive experience.

Upon returning home to Milan, he had an idea to bring the youth culture of London to Italy’s fashion capital. Fiorucci’s first step in creating his revolutionary fashion label began while working in his family’s shoemakers, where he designed bright pink galoshes that brought shock and excitement to Milanese fashionistas.

Milan’s first concept store

In 1967, Fiorucci enlisted the talent of the artist Amalia Del Ponte to design his very first concept store in the San Babila district of Milan. Emulating the free-spirited shopping experience of London, his new store brought to Milan the designs of Biba, Mary Quant and Ossie Clark alongside music, art and literature.

Elio travelled the world looking for new exciting clothing to bring back to his store, everything from the Afghan coat to the Brazilian thong became synonymous with the name Fiorucci.

Taking New York

Over the next 10 years Fiorucci’s groundbreaking brand expanded to 20 stores worldwide – the most iconic in collective memory being the New York store, which opened in 1976 on East 59th Street. The launch party was held at Studio 54, where a performance from Madonna is said to have launched her career.

Neon aesthetics and animal prints were developed alongside the already established elasticated fitted jeans and branded t-shirts to cater for the synth loving subculture, and the emerging new wave. 

The store became a cultural hive, where shoppers were encouraged to dance in the window displays, a place where Studio 54’s disco loving crowd could hang out during daylight hours, where musicians would perform and artworks were exhibited.

Andy Warhol would frequent the coffee bar on a regular basis, and even launched ‘Interview’ magazine in store. He also introduced Keith Haring to the fashion label, who painted murals that emblazoned the walls of both the New York and Milan stores.

Playful and shocking poster design

The root of Fiorucci's New York success lay in his groundbreaking and provocative ad campaigns. In the late 60’s, Elio hired a permanent team of 16 graphic artists, who generated in abundance, visual imagery that propelled the label. Fiorucci’s daring and playful advertisement posters shocked and surprised audiences, in what was at the time a conservative market.

The photographic campaigns were produced with Elio's long standing collaborator, the British photographer Terry O’Neill. Featuring idealised female figures modelling Fiorucci’s revolutionary lycra fitted jeans, revealing t-shirts bearing the brands logo, plus more that left much less to the imagination, Fiorucci and O’Neill were true masters in the art of marketing.

Fiorucci Angels

The graphic designer Italo Lupi developed the first concept art for the iconic Fiorucci Angels, but it was art director Sauro Mainardi who fully realised the sweet cherub design that was launched in 1973 as the motif for Fiorucci jeans.

The sweet emblem that finds its inspiration in the work of Italian painter Raphael (1483-1580) brought to the brand a visual imagery that ingeniously juxtaposed their trademark bright, bold style, yet has always had the star power to command the adoration of the most hardcore Fiorucci fans, both old and new.

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