Elio Fiurruci, the iconic Italian fashion designer famous for pioneering stretch jeans, died in his home in Milan yesterday at the age of 80.
Fiorucci started his eponymous, Milan-based fashion label in 1967. He got his start bringing London’s swinging ’60s fashion to Italy, but really hit his stride after a trip to Ibiza, Spain where he got the idea for the the now ubiquitous stretch jean. Inspired by the way wet jeans clung to women’s bodies, Fiorucci sought to recreate the effect by creating skin-tight denim designed specifically show off women’s curves.
“It became one of my obsessions: this idea that women should not wear jeans made for men, but should have their own,” Fiorucci told i-D in an interview. “So once I returned to Milan I bought a roll of denim, a shrinking, elastic fabric.”
Once the popularity of his jeans spread, Fiorucci opened a store on 59th Street in New York and counted Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, and Cher among his loyal patrons. The New York Times called the store the “daytime Studio 54,” where designers like Betsey Johnson, Jill Stuart and Marc Jacobs could all be found early in their careers. “He is the master of us all,” Vivienne Westwood once said.
Before shutting down in 2003, Fiorucci’s moved to a more pristine retail space on Broadway, but remained a venue to launch young talent, among them DJ and design duo AndrewAndrew. In 1999, Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey referenced the designer in his short film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, an homage to U.K. nightlife. With his bright leotards, leopard-printed patterns and provocative Americana-inspired ads, Fiorucci will be remembered as one of the most iconic designers of the 1970s.