Fiorucci is pictured in his office March 20, 2014
in Milan, Italy.
Topshop and H&M made fashion-tainment the name of
the retail game, there was Fiorucci.
Fiorucci, the Milanese founder of the Fiorucci clothing
and shopping empire, died recently at age 80. Although
the last of his boutiques closed in Milan in 2003, his
passing started me thinking about the influence they had
in New York City, where I grew up, and in Los Angeles,
where I live now.
taught me how to shop as a teenager in the 1980s. His
New York boutique, which opened in 1976 just across the
street from Bloomingdale’s in midtown Manhattan, was
not only a store, it was a hangout and pop-culture
crossroads in the grand tradition of Biba and Granny
Takes a Trip in London.
had it that Andy Warhol stopped by every day, though I
never saw him. Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Marc Jacobs
the early 1980s, Fiorucci’s art director was Maripol,
the architect of Madonna’s fashion image in the
"Like a Virgin" days. Oliviero Toscani, who
shot many of the era’s groundbreaking Benetton ads,
also shot for Fiorucci.
York’s Fiorucci store was the kind of place you could
go and stay awhile — to gape at punk salespeople with
mohawk hairstyles (drag star Joey Arias worked there at
one point), to listen to DJs spinning Duran Duran
in-store, to watch MTV music videos on TV screens, see
art by Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf on the walls, sip
cappuccino and flip through cool foreign fashion
magazines. There was always something to look at, from
neon lipstick to neon rubber anklets. It was retail
sensory overload for a shopper-in-training, a lifestyle
store before lifestyle stores became the norm.
if you couldn’t afford the jeans and T-shirts with the
brand’s signature twin cherub logo or a leopard
babydoll dress by Betsey Johnson, you could still feel
part of the "in" crowd with a pair of neon
Fiorucci lace-cup gladiator sandals, a mug or a pen for
a few bucks. Fiorucci had the coolest flip pens, covered
in 1980s New Wave patterns, with attached caps that spun
around and clicked into place. When I was in middle
school, so many of my classmates had the click-clackety
Fiorucci flip pens that my teachers had to ban them in
class because the noise was too distracting.
Fiorucci brand was founded in 1967 in Milan with an
emphasis on curve-hugging, Lycra stretch denim (some
call Elio the inventor of skinny jeans) and T-shirts
that put a humorous Euro spin on Americana, including
cowgirls and pinups. His empire quickly went global,
with stores in New York, London and beyond carrying not
only Fiorucci wares but those from other designers,
including Anna Sui and Zandra Rhodes.
1978, a Beverly Hills outpost opened on Beverly Drive.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, on
opening night 60 security guards had to lock arms at the
store’s entrance to prevent a crowd of more than 3,000
guests from storming the doors. Scalpers offered tickets
up to $75, and some waiting guests paid others $200 just
to jump ahead in line. The store was featured in the
1980s disco film "Xanadu," starring Olivia
moved to a different Beverly Hills location on Little
Santa Monica in 1984 and eventually to Melrose, where it
was one of my first stops on my first trip to Los
Angeles. I just knew that even in L.A., Fiorucci was the
place to be.