To say the Fiorucci brand—and its East 59th street store—had a wide-ranging influence on disco-era New York would be an understatement. A burgeoning Madonna performed at its fifteenth anniversary party in 1983; Keith Haring’s graffiti graced the walls; Andy Warhol enjoyed days there with friends like Cher; and Marc Jacobs, who spent a teenage summer at the store, maintains that it defined his approach to fashion. Not to mention, Fiorucci helped pave the way for designer jeans, imbuing denim with stretch—and sex appeal.
Founded in 1967 by Elio Fiorucci, the colorful and tongue-in-cheek denim-focused brand quickly expanded beyond its hometown of Milan—first to London, and then to New York. Seamlessly combining fashion, culture, and lifestyle with groundbreaking vision, the New York flagship became a creative hub—the original concept store—responsible for popularizing statement styles such as scandalous Brazilian bathing suits and gold Lurex cowboy boots. “It was a mixture of kitsch and glamour and hedonism, which gave fashion a shot in the arm,” reflects Simon Doonan, Barneys New York’s Creative Ambassador. “When I came to New York in the late ‘70s, the Fiorucci store was the happening place.”
Fiorucci’s innovative and irreverent influence continues to spark passionate reactions from fashion culture enthusiasts, which is why the Britain-based powerhouse business duo Stephen and Janie Schaffer spent years trying to acquire the iconic brand. After finally purchasing it in 2015, they spent months scouring the expansive archives and thoughtfully plotting its re-launch this spring, exclusively at Barneys New York. The new incarnation of Fiorucci will utilize the brand’s playful pop art graphics—including the iconic Raphael-inspired cherubs designed by Italo Lupi—on fashion-forward denim, T-shirts, jackets, and more. They also plan to embrace Fiorucci’s rich history of capsule collections and artist collaborations, starting with Sofia Coppola, who will be partnering with the brand on creative projects surrounding the launch.
“Elio was able to offer a feeling of optimism, which really epitomizes the success of the brand,” explains Stephen. “We wanted to take that spirit from the original DNA and modernize it with the best new fabrics and technologies so that it becomes up-to-date.”
“It’s about treating it for today, but with that authenticity of yesterday,” adds Janie with truly palpable passion, leaving no doubt that the brand’s identity is in good hands.
“Fiorucci redefined fashion in the seventies,” says Stephen. “What we’re excited to offer is something truly experiential for here and now.”