Elio Fiorucci, New York Store became known as the “Daytime Studio 54”

10 May

Elio Fiorucci, ph. by Giarcarlo MecarelliElio Fiorucci, ph. by Giarcarlo Mecarelli

Elio Fiorucci was born in Milan on 10 June 1935, son of a shoe shop owner. One day in 1962, Elio came up with the idea of making galoshes (rubber overshoes) in bright primary colours while working at his father’s shop. When they were featured in a local weekly fashion magazine, the galoshes caused a sensation (inspiration for Prada shoes fall 2012). Following a trip to London in 1965, Elio was determined to bring Carnaby Street fashions to Milan. He opened his first shop on Galleria Passerella in Milan on 31 May 1967 selling clothes by London designers such as Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes.

In 1968 Fiorucci looked East for inspiration, buying cheap T-shirts from India, and turning rice sacks into bags. Two years later the company set up its own manufacturing plant, and adopted the “two angels” logo created by Italo Lupi.

Elio Fiorucci & Andy WarholAndy Warhol chose the shop window to launch of his revolutionary “Interview” magazine.

“Went to Fiorucci and it’s so much fun there. It’s everything I’ve always wanted, all plastic.”

12/21/83 Warhol diary entry

In 1974 the company opened a huge new store on Via Torino in Milan, expanding beyond fashion to offer books, furniture and music. The new shop also had a performance area, vintage clothing market and restaurant. Meanwhile the label introduced the monokini and thong from Brazil, causing controversy with the topless photos used to advertise them. Glass beads from New Mexico were another hit In 1975 the company opened its first store overseas, on the Kings Road in London, and launched a children’s collection called Fioruccino. It brought Afghan coats to the mass market and popularised the leopard-skin prints first created by Elsa Schiaparelli two decades before.

Fiorucci monokiniFiorucci controversial monokini ad

The real epicenter of Fiorucci’s cool was its New York store at 125 East 59th Street. Opening in the spring of 1976, it soon became a destination for all those young and weird. The press compared its atmosphere  to that of Studio 54. In 1977, New York magazine would declare: “All it took this year to achieve instant chic, day or night, at the slickest New York party or the trashiest was a pair of $110 gold cowboy boots from Fiorucci.” Customers such as Marc Jacobs, Cher and Terence Conran would rub shoulders with Jackie Onassis and Lauren Bacall, you might see drag queen Joey Arias serving the King of Spain or author Douglas Coupland absorbing the store’s pop culture or Calvin Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt buying some jeans.

oliviero toscani per Fiorucci.Oliviero Toscani for Fiorucci

Fiorucci served free espresso during the ’70s before most Americans had even heard of it. Fiorucci had DJ’s in the boutique spinning all the latest cutting edge music, B-52’s, David Bowie, Blondie, Lena Lovich, Kate Bush.  Fiorucci had models dancing in its window displays, wearing the latest fashions. Fiorucci was “cool”. Out with the old in with the new. Fiorucci had 30 stylists and trend- spotters, some as young as 16, whose job was to fly around the globe and report back on the latest trends. They would buy samples of things they saw on the street. They’d go to clubs and see what people were wearing. They would get the youngest, and best looking sales assistants, dress them up in the most outrageous outfits, and have them “sell” Fiorucci, on the streets. Look at this fabulous plastic skirt I got at Fiorucci. etc…. 

Fiorucci Art Direction by MaripolFiorucci Art Direction by Maripol

In the early 1980s the Fiorucci art director was jewelry designer Maripol, known for creating Madonna’s look at the time. Other employees included Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone, Terry Jones of i-D magazine, Oliviero Toscani, who shot many of the famous Benetton ads and famed interior designer Jim Walrod.



Meanwhile, the company continued to bring new products to market, including a collection made from DuPont’s new Tyvek fabric and velvet slippers from China. In 1978 they were the first fashion house to license their name for a collection of sunglasses, while in 1981 a Disney licence led to a highly successful range of clothes emblazoned with Mickey Mouse. Ever on the pulse of the times, Fiorucci sponsored the reunion of Simon and Garfunkel in The Concert in Central Park on 19 September 1981, attended by 400,000 people or more and on the bill for their birthday party in 1983 was a then-unknown Madonna.

Madonna and her dancers, the 15th anniversary of Fiorucci at Studio 54, 1983.Madonna and her dancers, the 15th anniversary of Fiorucci at Studio 54, 1983

In 1981 the company launched the first stretch jeans with Lycra, and the success of the 5-pocket “Safety” jeans was recognised three years later in a licensing deal with Wrangler Jeans.

Jeans put Fiorucci onto the international fashion scene. Fiorucci created vinyl jeans that were skintight, sexy, and brightly colored. Fiorucci was crazy for color — shocking, screaming, pulsating fluorescent shades — at a time when others were proposing muted preppie plaids. Fiorucci sold sex, before the concept was coopted by mainstream media.





In 1987 Fiorucci produced the Junior Gaultier line designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier, and in 1989 they went back to their roots with a deal with Vivienne Westwood, queen of the London street scene.

The company expanded rapidly after 1978, launching new stores across the US, Europe and Asia. Despite thriving sales, the company was dogged by poor management and had to close the New York store in 1986; Betsey Johnson has suggested “Fiorucci was the most happening place. It never stopped being happening — it just left New York City, because I don’t think New York City was happening enough by the mid-80’s”. Fiorucci closed down the rest of the US retail locations in 1988 after a franchise dispute, moving instead to a wholesale strategy.

logo-fiorucciFiorucci logo by Italo Lupi

Fiorucci label tagFiorucci label tag

The company was sold and resold again. January 1996 after a plea bargain, Elio Fiorucci was given a suspended jail sentence of 22 months for inflating the value of invoices to increase the value of the company to Carrera at the expense of his creditors.

In 1999 the then owners announced a plan to open a New York store once again. The initial plan was to open in time for Christmas 1999, but the store on lower Broadway finally opened its doors in June 2001. Critics were sceptical that it could recapture the buzz of times past, given the increased competition in mass-market clubbing gear from the likes of H&M and The Limited.


Meanwhile the brand continued to thrive in Europe and regained some of its former notoriety in 1995 with a poster campaign for its jeans featuring a naked woman’s buttocks and pink furry handcuffs, which became instant bestsellers. In 1999 it launched a successful perfume, followed by a second, Fiorucci Loves You, in 2001, and “Miss Fiorucci” makeup in 2003.

Although Elio Fiorucci retained creative control during this era, the owners are protective of the Fiorucci trademarks and have taken legal action against H&M in the US when Elio designed their Poolside line. He has also set up a brand of his own called Love Therapy and designed for Agent Provocateur.

In March 2003, Elio Fiorucci announced that after 36 years, he was closing the doors to his historic shop in Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, Milan. When Fiorucci hit the scene nearly 40 years ago, he blew Italy – and the rest of the world – away with a larger-than-life attitude. He brought in the new and unexpected, pre-dating the surge of today’s “lifestyle” stores. Fiorucci mixed clothing with beauty products, vintage items, music and home furnishings. He even used his retail space for artistic performances. Elio said the reason he was closing his shop was because he had “fallen out of love” with fashion.

fiorucci-collage .


Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore

Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore patches up several videos of young people dancing, singing and partying. It starts with the disco scene of the 1970s, touches upon the Northern Soul of the late 1970s and early 1980s and climaxes with the rave scene of the 1990s. Mash-ups of a single soundtrack play during the whole video, giving a sense of unity and narrative to the video. However, there are moments of spoken text. At one point an animated element – a bird tattoo image – appears as if released from the hand of a dancer, then carried into the next shot finds its place on the arm of another of the film’s nightclubbing subjects. Some dance moves are played on loop for a few seconds, some are played in slow motion.



Inspired by Elio Fiorucci

coloured galoshes : http://www.swims.com/MEN/Galoshes.aspx



coloured galoshes

coloured galoshes

coloured galoshes






article by By Trish Donnally, Chronicle Fashion Editor


3 Responses to “Elio Fiorucci, New York Store became known as the “Daytime Studio 54””

  1. kafkette 19 April 2016 at 01:13 #

    if it’s still in my garage—where it should be—i’m gonna be cremated in my favorite fiorucci dress. my first exhusband kept my first one, just like he kept everything, but i bought it again on ebay. i may not be able to take all my earthly delights with me, but it’s coming.

    • kafkette 19 April 2016 at 01:16 #

      ps. also the ‘mosque’ in l.a. ask anyone who was anyone when anytime was worth living, & s/he will tell you about the fiorucci mosque. it’s named after, btw, the turkish-type onion that was at the top of the building.


  1. Fiorucci para Maiores: uma história e tanto - IdeaFixa - 5 October 2015

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