Why you should know cult fashion store Fiorucci

Published October 3, 2017

“My mum nearly died wearing Fiorucci,” said British fashion designer Mimi Wade. “She went skiing in a red rubber Fiorucci all-in-one, and she fell over, just fell down the mountain.”

It seems that everyone has an epic Fiorucci story. Madonna performed at the 59th Street flagship in full regalia (pearls, lace, spandex, scrunchies) a year before the release of Like a Virgin. Marc Jacobs met Calvin Klein there. You could find Jackie O and Elizabeth Taylor in the café; Truman Capote signing books and doing autograph sessions. Kenny Scharf had his first solo exhibition there. Lead salesperson and performance artist Joey Arias (aka “Joey Fiorucci”) told the New York Times that Lauren Bacall came in once, smoking a cigarette—in lieu of an ashtray, she shook the ashes into his hand. Andy Warhol launched this very magazine with a party at Fiorucci’s flagship.

In the forward to a new book—aptly called Fiorucci—celebrating the brand’s return, Sofia Coppola writes that “life has never been the same again” since she discovered the New York store as a pre-teen. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the store was commonly described as “daytime Studio 54,” and the book, published by Rizzoli, is a celebration of that energy. It features interviews with six cultural luminaries, all of whom share anecdotes about Fiorucci’s enigmatic founder Elio Fiorucci: Marc Jacobs (who said the store was a “bazaar of cool things”), novelist Douglas Coupland, the artist and designer Maripol, who managed the boutique, musician David Dewaele (aka Soulwax/ 2ManyDJs), i-D magazine founder Terry Jones, and photographer Oliviero Toscani.

The book, out today, features images from Fiorucci’s seemingly endless archives. The brand’s campaigns were always a bit naughty—stylist and office magazine editor-in-chief Simon Rasmussen said that, as a teenager, he really appreciated “the butt shots and wet t-shirts”—and above all, they were bright and loud and glamorous and instantly iconic (who could forget the model humping the swordfish?). Fiorucci by Rizzoli also features photos from the wild store itself, such as when Keith Haring covered the walls in his famous motifs like “Golden Baby.”

In an interview with WWD, new Fiorucci CEO Janie Schaffer said that she and her husband and business partner Stephen Schaffer found over 20,000 works of art in the Fiorucci archives, including countless racks of vintage clothing, early copies of i-D, works by Haring and Antonio Lopez, and even Disney apparel collaborations. They’re relaunching a brand with an incredibly rich history, yet they feel that younger audiences have little awareness of it.”It was almost like taking a car like an Aston Martin, removing it for 25 years and bringing it back again,” Schaffer told WWD. “How do you do that when it’s gone out of people’s consciousness? You have to take philosophies and the beauty of the original, but you have to pick up on the new technology.”

Well Aston Martins are beautiful, and Fiorucci is beloved. Consider the immortal words of Sister Slege’s 1979 track “He’s the Greatest Dancer:” “Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci / He looks like a still, that man is dressed to kill.”

FIORUCCI, PUBLISHED BY RIZZOLI, IS AVAILABLE NOW.