Book Review – Roberto Capucci: Art Into Fashion

In 1962, Roberto Capucci was touted by Life magazine as one of the “rising stars of Paris haute couture” along with Yves Saint Laurent. That same year, the choosy French fashion press nicknamed him “Le petit Balenciaga de L’Italie.“ If Capucci was such as big deal, why had I never heard of him? (Roberto Cavailli, Fiorucci, Ca-Pucci?) I blamed my own ignorance, but I couldn’t help but wonder why such a seemingly revered designer was absent in my fashion lexicon. With the help of the Fondazione Roberto Capucci and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s parallel Roberto Capucci Exhibition, Dilys E. Blum thoroughly introduced me. Picking up this picture-heavy book, I also didn’t realize its apparently monographical purpose would be coupled with a more covert, even subversive task. The title should have given me a hint, specifically the second part: Art Into Fashion, perhaps better titled Fashion into Art.

Blum relays the story of Roberto Capucci (b. 1930), an 18-year-old Italian couture designer who blossomed out of the burgeoning post-WW2 Italian fashion scene and matured into the comparatively remote and revered couture sculpture artist he is today. Three-quarters of this book’s colour-soaked pages offer a photographic retrospective of Capucci’s garments—pictured are all the naturalistic motifs, painter’s palette colours, exaggerated folds, and proportion distortion that characterize Capucci’s thoroughly clean and modern oeuvre.
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