Elio Fiorucci
ICON: Signor Elio Fiorucci
by Rachel Haslam

1977, anticipated grand opening of Studio 54 in New York; the place anyone and everyone wanted to be. The era of disco had just been born as the coolest movement since the heavy metal craze of the early ’70s. Colour was everything. So was borderline ridiculousness. One brand put all these elements together and set the throughway for the fashion game that would last the next ten plus years. Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie O. shopped there. Andy Warhol was a regular. Truman Capote signed books in the window. And its name gets dropped in Sister Sledge’s disco banger He’s The Greatest Dancer. For those who weren’t yet born or were living in a hole from 1976 to 1984, that was Fiorucci, the New York store credited with started everything from designer stretch jeans to Madonna’s career. Sat on East 59th Street, Fiorucci became known as the daytime Studio 54 because of all the patrons sipping on espresso listening to tunes by a resident DJ (in the days before turntables were even a thing) and discussing their plans for the evening’s soirée. The New York drag artiste Joey Arias was the store manager and sometimes starred in Fiorucci’s live window displays; blowing bubbles or reading smutty magazines. Visiting Fiorucci’s store was such an event that even fashion figureheads like Marc Jacobs admitted to the New York Times to having skipped camp (he was 15 at the time) to spend summers at Fiorucci’s New York boutique. Elio Fiorucci was the mastermind behind the hype. In his heyday, he created a fashion movement. Not simply clothes, but a movement. His logo, featuring a pair of cherubs wearing a pair of Lolita sunglasses, was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whether it was his tight-fitting stretch safety jeans – available in everything from transparent plastic to neon corduroy – glitter sprinkled cowboy shirts, acid-yellow dungarees, or little angel T-shirts, Fiorucci’s designs were the things to be seen in at such venues like Studio 54. His clothes were miniscule (nothing above a size 10). They were spectacular. It was in 1962 when Elio first discovered his flair for spotting trends when he devised the idea to create galoshes in bright colours that he convinced magazines to feature. They became overnight sensations and flew off the shelves in an instant. Five years later, he opened his first shop in Milan where he eventually developed his own designs; namely ’60s basics with a twist. Button-downs were made in neon colours. Cowboy boots were designed with higher heels and gold accents. But it was his infamous stretch jeans that placed Elio on the fashion map. His were like Levi’s, except they were ridiculously skin-tight, brightly coloured, and insanely sexy. By the time his New York boutique opened in the late ’70s, he was selling over three million pairs of jeans a year. However, things took a downward turn in the late ’80s when Elio and his fashions fell out of favour and he was forced to shut his illustrious store in New York. He pleaded guilty to charges of bankruptcy and fraud in order to increase the value of the company that rescued him in 1989 (Carrera jeans, which eventually put him behind bars for 22 months). But nearly two decades later, his allegiance to the young and creative is still apparent. His brand’s legacy lives on in the macrocosm of YouTube and for the fashion-hungry on Tumblr, where its unforgettable ’70s campaigns still rack up re-posts in the thousands.