In Good Shape: The Work of Roberto Capucci (Part Two)

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This post is a continuation of a discussion about the work of Roberto Capucci, and will explore the designer’s transition from high fashion to high art.

Adieu Paris

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Dress, 1972, silk georgette with bamboo (N.136) Photography by Claudia Primangeli/ L.e. via Philadelphia Museum of Art

By his return from Paris, Capucci’s creativity was at a low. “The happiest moment is the moment of creation,” the designer said in an interview. “But a creator isn’t free to design what he likes any more. It is very sad.” Capucci was still designing for celebrities at this time, which gave him an international presence. One of his most well-known celebrity wearers was the French-Italian actress Catherine Spaak, who was married to his brother Fabrizio Capucci from 1963 to 1971.

As soon as he reached Italy, he escaped on a trip to India that boosted his creativity. The Philadelphia Museum of Art states that this trip led him to “explore new colors and fabrics that resulted in a more poetic and fanciful aesthetic.”

After this trip, Capucci’s work moved from unusual silhouettes to unconventional materials, and by the 1970s, he was combining pebbles and straw with fine fabrics. This 1972 silk georgette gown housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art embraces Capucci’s change by combining the fine green fabric with bamboo.

In An Unconventional Fashion

Even today, clothing made from unconventional fabrics is not a mass accepted fashion and often falls under couture or fine art. By the early 1980s, Capucci was finding himself in this conundrum and had to choose between creating ready-to-wear, a growing field, or quit creating haute couture, which was not commercially viable. Capucci was Similar to his mindset during his leave of Paris, Capucci was unsatisfied with the fashion industry and needed a change. He chose to resign from the couture calendar and present his work once a year. This change was not just in venue, but in aesthetic. Capucci chose to forgo his fashion designer status for that of a textile artist.

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FW 17 Capucci via

Capucci continued with his fine art work, but by the early Aughtes he returned to ready-to-wear with the line, Capucci. The fashion collection was designed both by himself and other designers, including Bernhard Willhel, Sybilla, Tara Subkoff, and Franca Maria Carraro for the shoeline. The line does not replicate the designer’s three-dimensional aesthetic, but blends geometric and colorful prints in wearable sportswear.

On Display
Cappuci’s later years have been filled with museum exhibits and fine art shows. He has been honored in a number of museum exhibits and was invited to show at the Forty-Sixth Venice Biennale. He created the Fondazione Roberto Capucci in 2005 with a museum filled with his works, and in 2007 the exhibition Ritorno alle origini (Return to Origins) at the Museo della Fondazione Roberto Capucci featured eight new sculptures of his work that was inspired by his beloved muse, nature. Another exhibit and publication was created by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2011 that followed his career from his beginnings in Italy to his journey into fine art.

For more on Roberto Capucci’s career and his work today, visit his website


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