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Pucci’s Palio Fails to Please

Godfrey Deeny
February 28th, 2009 @ 00:47 AM - Milan

It was billed as the debut of a new designer at the house of Emilio Pucci but felt more like the launch of a diffusion line, and a confused and derivative one at that.

Pucci unveiled the first collection by its new artistic director Peter Dundas on Saturday, Feb. 28, wisely shifting the show's location from the barn like Fiera di Milan exhibition halls to an elegant city center Renaissance palazzo. Dundas also smartened up the casting and rethought the hair and makeup - the former minimal and the latter flouncy and peekaboo. But that's pretty much where the good news stopped.

The show's theme of flags and bunting from Italy's greatest horse race, the Palio of Siena, seemed too heavy handed and populist for a label known for its sense of assertive chic. An image of two shirts in garish Palio graphics contained in the program notes placed on every seat caused eyes to roll even before the first model hit the catwalk.

There was more sass and sex in this collection than in those of the Norwegian-born Dundas' British predecessor Matthew Williamson, but precious little subtlety. Opening with thigh boots, streaky print mini dresses and over-sized furs, the collection immediately felt like a junior version of the famed Florentine brand.

Pencil jeans with angled zippers, formulaic multi-strand high-heel booties, eye-blinking silk columns in swirling dark prints, garish U.S. Air Force jackets with Chinoserie designs and far to chunky cable sweaters only added to the sense of lower priced diffusion.

In among his designs there was the odd striking look - in particular some splendidly cut cocktail dresses, one in deconstructed padded black silk and another in criss-cross strands of silk and faux anthracite. But they were nowhere near saving this collection.

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